McDowell – King’s Moss, Northern Ireland

When Jim and I were planning our trip in September of 2013, including the cruise around the British Isles, we carefully selected our side trips to correspond with anything genealogical I could find in that region. Given my colonial Virginia and Appalachian heritage, I have lots of family history in the British Isles, so I felt connected just about everyplace.

One of the stops I was most excited about was the port of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Jim and I planned to visit the Giants Causeway on the far northern shore, but on the way is what I really wanted to see – Kingsmoss Road in Newtownabbey.  On the map below, B is Kingsmoss Road located between Belfast (A) and the Giant’s Causeway (C).

Ireland Giant's Causeway Map

Why was I so anxious to see King’s Moss Road? Well, that’s the story of what genetic genealogy can do for you, even in a less than optimal set of circumstances.

Let’s back up several years.

The McDowell project is one of those that doesn’t have a project website at Family Tree DNA, nor a public website of any kind. I’d love to provide a link here, but I can’t.  My cousin tested some years back and the project administrator provided me with a spreadsheet showing results and his matches.

The project situation is certainly less than optimal – but still – what I needed was that “one good match” and I indeed, did receive that.

Mary McDowell was born about 1785 and she married William Harrell in 1809 in Wilkes County, NC.

Mary’s father was Michael McDowell, a Revolutionary War veteran, born about 1747. He served from Bedford County, VA and after the war, settled in Wilkes County, NC with his wife, Isabel, last name unknown. Around 1810, Michael, along with a number of other families who were intermarried and lived adjacent moved to what was then Claiborne County, Tennessee, on the border with Lee County, Virginia, in what would in the 1840s would become Hancock County, Tennessee. Mary McDowell and William Harrell were among this group.

Michael’s father is believed to also be Michael McDowell found on a 1755 Bedford County tax list. In 1752, Michael was in Halifax County, Virginia and he was selling his father’s land, in Baltimore, Maryland.

His father’s name was Murto or Murdo McDowell, probably actually Murtough McDowell. We know nothing about him except that he was dead in 1752. Much research remains to be done on this line.

However, DNA testing has allowed us to jump the pond, without knowing who Murtough’s ancestors were or where they were from.

The descendant of Michael McDowell whose test I paid for had three matches, according to the administrator. She sent me a paragraph or so provided by those three matches. One match is from another son of Michael McDowell, one is from Pennsylvania and the common ancestor with that individual is likely overseas in the old country, but the third match was the gold mine.

This gentleman’s father was born in Ireland, outside of Belfast, and he knows exactly where.

“There is a Kings Moss Road and I have been on it. There is also a place called Kings Moss. I have relatives there and my father was born there. It shows Kings Moss on his birth cert.”

This extremely valuable piece of information tells me several things. First, it tells me that this is likely where Murtough was from as well. During this time, the Scotch-Irish were immigrating in record numbers, and while McDowell is originally a Scottish name, it is found in the area of Ireland, now Northern Ireland, where the Scotch-Irish were forced to live – the Ulster Plantations. And, the McDowells are Protestant, very important in Ireland, according to the McDowell match, suggesting strongly that they indeed were not Irish, who are staunchly Catholic. They were strongly Protestant in Wilkes County too, the denomination typically known as Primitive or Hard-shell Baptists.

Kings Moss Road is a very rural area. It’s not a large city, not a “go to” type of location, even though it’s only 15 miles or so out of Belfast.

So I was incredibly excited that I was going to be riding within sneezing distance from where the McDowell family lived, driving on the same roads that my ancestor probably walked on, maybe driving livestock, maybe tending fields or searching for food. You can see, below, it’s just a little divit, a dog-leg, off the main Mossley road, maybe half a mile long, in total. Kingmoss road actually ends at the intersection of B56 and Springwell road. The B balloon is about half way on Kingmoss road. I would be able to see it! I could take a picture or maybe even a movie.

Kingmoss Road

In this satellite view, I can see the fields and farms and the McDowell family surely farmed one of them.

Kingmoss satellite

But, unfortunately, Lady Luck was not with me and Lady Fate took over instead. The British Isles was experiencing severe storms including 25-30 foot seas. The port of Belfast was closed, and we could not put into that port. Sometimes they change itineraries, reversing ports, but on this trip, Belfast was cancelled entirely. I was crushed. We had come so far to be turned back. But there was nothing to be done.

So, I did what any technologist would do, I checked to see if this area of Northern Ireland had street views in Google Earth. I was amazed to discover that it did. So I took a virtual, turn by turn, tour. Come along!

Kingmoss turn by turn

Kingmass turn by turn 2 cropped

Kingmoss turn by turn 3

Kingmoss turn by turn 4

It certainly wasn’t quite the same as being there, but it’s decidedly better than nothing at all. I wonder what other places might be available to visit virtually that I had never considered previously.

And of course, being a genealogist, I’m now wondering where the closest church is to this location, and if the records still exist for that church. Murtough was likely born sometime around 1700, if not earlier. Could I possibly be that lucky???? Is Lady Luck with me? Has she returned?

Occasionally, synchronicity steps in. Do you ever look for a sign? Something hopeful….maybe from the ancestors themselves???  Like my friend who was hunting for her ancestor’s gravestone, with absolutely no luck.  Not watching where she was walking, she stepped into a hole and turned her ankle, causing her to fall.  As she lay there on the ground taking stock of the situation, she realized that to get up, she was going to have to roll sideways until she could reach a stone to help her stand up.  She looked at the stone directly beside her and it was indeed, her ancestor that tripped her up.

Sometimes, you just notice something incredible. Now I know there is probably, most probably, no correlation or relation at all. But still, I want to share with you something I discovered.

Kingmoss satellite 2

I’m going to zoom in on the upper left hand corner of this satellite view of Kingsmoss Road.

Kingmoss satellite 3

And zoom again. Note the field with the spiral.

Kingmoss satellite 4

Below is an aerial view of my property.

Labyrth bird's eye view (1)

To give you an idea of perspective, that’s my daughter and I standing by the labyrinth. It’s just over 90 feet across.

Is there a gene for this???



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Mary McDowell, the White Wife, 52 Ancestors #17

William Herrell was born in 1790 in North Carolina. In 1809, in Wilkesboro, he married Mary McDowell, born in 1785, the daughter of Michael McDowell who was born in 1747, probably in Bedford County, Virginia, and who died in 1834 in Claiborne Co, Tn. in the portion that became Hancock County later. Most of what we know about Michael is from his Revolutionary War pension application made in 1832. Michael is probably the son of an earlier Michael, who is probably the son of Murtough McDowell who died in 1752 in Baltimore, Maryland, but that is a story for another time.

The 1800 census of Wilkes Co., NC shows Michael McDowell, Jacob McGrady (the minister who married William Herrell and Mary McDowell), and both John Herrell Jr. and Sr. (spelled Harral) on adjoining pages. Based on this evidence, pending further investigation, it is presumed that Michael McDowell is Mary and John’s father and John Herrell Sr. is likely the father of William Herrell.

John McDowell states in his affidavit that he left Wilkes County about 1810 and that Mary and William were married about a year before that. We have every reason to believe that Mary McDowell and William Herrell relocated about that same time to the Mulberry Gap area of then Claiborne, and now Hancock County, Tennessee.

The early tax and census records of Wilkes Co, NC reveal that the Herrell (Harral, Herold, Herrald), McNiel, Vannoy, Sheppard, and McDowell families lived just houses apart. Those families also migrated about the same time to the area that was originally Claiborne County, Tennessee and would eventually become northern Hancock County, near the Lee County, Virginia line and lived in close proximity as neighbors there too. Today, both a Harrell cemetery and the cemetery on Michael McDowell’s land remain. The McDowell cemetery is shown below, under the tree.

McDowell cemetery

It’s unknown where Mary is buried, but probably in the Herrell Cemetery on River Road, shown below, in one of the many unmarked graves.

Herrell cemetery

The first record in the Tennessee-Virginia area we have shows Mary and William Herrell actually living in Lee County, probably just across the border, in 1812 when they purchased land.

May term 1813 – Oct. 10, 1812 John Claypool and Eliza his wife of Claiborne and William Harrold of Lee Co Va. for the sum of $200 a tract of land lying in Claiborne on the N side of Powell River including a stripe of land on the opposite side of said river included in a tract of land conveyed to William Bails by James Allen bounded as follows: Beginning on the back line in a deep hollow at two hickories and at a dogwood, thence to a white oak marked AB (with the right side of the A the same as the back of the B) thence to the south line of said tract containing 100 acres more or less it being part of a tract of 440 acres conveyed to said William Bails by James Allen as above said conveyance bearing the date Jan. 20 1809. Witnesses William Briance, Michael McDowel (his mark), William Hardy. Registered Dec. 3, 1813.

Slanting misery survery drawing

Their land was aptly named, Slanting Misery. Having climbed this land hunting for the cemetery, I can vouch for the appropriateness of the name. Below is a panoramic view of Slanting Misery.

Slanting misery panorama

William Harrell served in the War of 1812. Much of what we know about him and his family comes from his pension application papers, and those of Mary following his death in 1859. William served beginning January 14, 1814, and was discharged May 13, 1814, being in Solomon Dobkins company.

In terms of Mary’s life, she married in Wilkes County in 1809, moved to a new state and environment in 1812 and bought land with her husband. Three months later, her husband marched off to war, leaving her with at least one infant, if not 2 or 3 children by that time, and having to get the crops in the ground in the spring in spite of his absence. She could also have been pregnant at the time, given that women of that era were either pregnant or nursing for their entire married, reproductive lives.

In his deposition taken on March 5, 1855, William states that he is 65 years old and enlisted as a private in Captain Solomon Dobkins company of Tennessee Militia in the regiment commanded by Samuel Bunch in the “War with the Creek Indians,” and served 14 days. According to his military records, he served for 4 months, not 14 days. He could not have traveled to the area in Alabama where he served and back in 14 days.

On July 5, 1871, William’s widow, Mary states she is 86 years old and that she lived on Powell’s River in Hancock County. She further states that William was discharged at Fort Strother in May of 1814 and that William “helped to build Fort Williams in the fork of the Coosey and Talley-Poosey Rivers”.

She says that she was married under the name of McDowell in 1809 at Wilkesboro NC by Jacob McGrady and that William died on October 8, 1859 on Powell’s River.

John McDowell filed an affidavit in 1872 stating that he is 90 years old (so born in 1782) and was acquainted with both William Herrell and Mary McDowell before their marriage. He states that he was at their wedding. Further testimony in 1872 by the postmaster of Mulberry Gap, John Woodward, attests to the honesty of Alexander Herrell and James E. Speer as witnesses to Mary McDowell Herrell’s loyalty. Alexander is believed to be her son and James possibly her son-in-law. There are Spears buried in the McDowell cemetery.

John McDowell is mentioned in the early settlers of Lee County along with a Michael McDowell who is a Revolutionary War veteran, born in 1745 and serving from Bedford Co Va.

The known children of William and Mary McDowell Harrell are:

  • Mildred born 1816 married Hiram Edins
  • Nancy born 1820, never married
  • Mary born 1822 married William Edens
  • Malinda born 1829

All of the above daughters are unmarried and living at home in 1850 census.

  • Abel Herrell, born 1824 married Nancy ? probably about 1847, since in 1850 the census shows that they had Margaret M age 2.
  • Another possible son was Alexander Herrell born 1826 who married Lydia ? and in 1850 had Sirery E age 3 and James J age 2.
  • Daughter Margaret was born about 1812, married Anson Cook Martin who died about 1845, and in 1850 was shown with the following Martin children:
    • Evaline b 1830 married Alexander Calvin Busic
    • William b 1833 married Rachel Markham
    • John b 1833 married Hannah Eldridge
    • Selerenda b 1834 married Pleasant Smith
    • Manerva b 1838
    • Mary b 1839 married Edward Hilton Claxton
    • Malinda b 1842 married James Parks
    • Alexandria b 1844

All of the bolded individuals, if they had daughters who had daughters to the current generation, could provide the mitochondrial DNA of Mary McDowell. There is a scholarship for anyone who fits that bill. In the current generation, the candidate can be either male or female, because women give their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of children, but only females pass it on.

Margaret then married Joseph Preston Bolton about 1850 and had:

o   Mary Ann Matilda Bolton born about 1851 married Martin Mordicai Cuningham

o   Joseph B. Bolton born on September 18, 1853 and married Margaret Claxton (Clarkston, Clarkson) in 1870 in Hancock County, eventually moving to the little Sycamore Community of Claiborne County. Both Joseph and wife Margaret are buried in the Plank Cemetery. Their daughter Ollie Bolton, born in 1874, died in 1955 in Chicago Ill, married in 1893 to William George. Ollie Bolton was my grandmother.

Mary McDowell Harrell died sometime between 1872 and the 1880 census.

Unfortunately, we don’t have anything in her own voice except for her application for widow’s benefits. The application itself is actually a form.

From all outward appearances, Mary’s life seemed to be pretty routine for the time in which she lived. Unfortunately, we don’t even have a full accounting of all of her children. Many things have been pieced together.

But there was one thing that always seemed unusual to me. Mary, in fact, none of the Herrell’s were ever involved in any of the church records. This was a relatively small, tight-knit, community and there was only one, then two, churches. We have the minutes from both of them, and all of the other neighbors were members. Where was the Harrell family? Their eldest daughter Margaret Herrell joined after she married Joseph Bolton. But no place were her parents in evidence. Why? That is extremely unusual in this time and place.

Well, as it turns out, there was a skeleton in the closet. There was indeed another entire story, a drama, in fact, going on, perhaps not so quietly, behind the scenes.


It started to unravel back in 1983 – the secrecy I mean, when I received a letter from cousin Louise, who, in essence threatened my life if I ever told anyone while she was still alive. She was in her 80s then, so I think I’m safe now. However, if I turn up dead….hunt for Louise!

It seems that William Herrell had another wife, a black wife. Not only that, according to the family story, but he built the black wife a house on the other side of his property, that would be Slanting Misery, and he went back and forth between the two. As you might imagine, this was THE talk of the family, apparently, for generations, and cousin Louise remembered when she was small, which was the early 1900s, her family would still whisper about the young female slave William Herrell bought, and who would then become his defacto wife. It’s no wonder that not one Herrell set foot in church.

Ever the skeptic, I wanted to see if there were any records to support that claim. After all, there was another unrelated Harrell family living about 20 miles away in Claiborne County. Maybe they had the wrong William Herrell. It’s certainly possible. I mean, it’s not like he had an unusual name like Ebenezer.

On the 1830 census, William Herrell had no slaves.

On the 1836 tax list, William had one slave.

On the 1840 census, William had 1 female slave age 10-24, so born before 1830 and one young male slave child under the age of 10.

The 1850 census shows William with 1 mulatto male slave, age 12.

The 1860 slave census shows Mary Herrell and 5 others owning a 33 year old male mulatto slave. These 5 would have been William’s heirs.

The 1870 census shows Cannon Herrell, age 35, mulatto, living with Mary Herrell and her spinster daughter, Nancy.

1870 Herrell census

Cousin Louse did not know Cannon’s name, but other family members did. Cannon was believed to have been William’s son by Harriet, the slave. Whether she was really a slave, unable to leave, or not is questionable. Some say yes some said no. But one thing is clear – legally, Cannon was the property of William Harrell, and then his heirs of law, as evidenced by the 1860 slave census. That just hurts my heart.

Oral history tells us that Mary raised Cannon as her own child after his mother, Harriett, died. That she took him in with her children and raised them all one and the same. The same oral history tells us that Cannon cared for her in her old age.

Indeed, this seems to be confirmed by the 1870 census. He was 35 years old, clearly not a slave anymore, certainly marriageable, especially with assets, but still, he stayed and took care of Mary. In 1880, Mary was gone, Nancy was living in the house alone, and Cannon had married and was living in a house beside 2 of the white Herrell boys.

Cannon died in 1916 and his death certificate gives his mother’s name as Harriett Herrell and his father was “not given.” Cannon was born about 1838.

In 1838, William and Mary McDowell Herrell had been married for 29 years. Mary was born in 1785, age 53, too old to be having children in 1838. Her youngest child was 9 years old. Harriett, on the other hand, was born between 1816 and 1830, based on the census, and assuming she was at least age 13 when she had Cannon, she would have been born between 1816 and 1825. So in 1838, Harriett was someplace between 13 and 22, at least 30 years younger than Mary, and possibly more.

William was slightly younger than Mary, according to his deposition, born in 1790, but still, certainly old enough to have been Harriett’s father, and to know better. It’s difficult for me to believe that the relationship between William and Harriett was entirely consensual, especially given the bonds of slavery. How could she have said no, if she wanted to? Had be freed Harriet, and she stayed by choice, I would feel better about this. Hancock County was formed in 1845 and it’s records burned, so it’s possible that there are records we’ve missed. I find it unlikely that he freed Harriett, because Cannon, her son, is shown enslaved in 1860, legally, if not functionally.

The family story says William would live with one wife until she got mad and threw him out, then he’s go live with the other one until the scenario repeated itself. Maybe the women had a common bond in their dislike of the situation. I have to wonder how Harriett felt about this situation. Was her life better because she bore William’s child? Is that the best she could hope for? Sadly, she never lived to see emancipation. She died between 1840 and 1850, someplace between the ages of 15 and 34, depending on her actual birth year and when she died. In 1865, she would have been between 40 and 49, had she lived that long. Maybe she and Mary would have lived together with their children after William’s death.

I can only imagine the heartbreak that Mary must have felt, her marriage vows having been betrayed by William, and then the persistent presence of the “other woman,” Harriett, and then her child. The “other woman” was only a child herself and certainly did not have a say in much of anything, if anything at all. The other woman was also the age of Mary’s children, and Mary had to know that a slave didn’t get to vote in the matter. Worse yet, it’s likely that Harriett actually lived with William and Mary, at least initially, so this betrayal probably took place in her own home. This situation was clearly William’s responsibility and that was likely clear to everyone, which explains why none of the family attended church. Mary was also probably embarrassed, but there were very few options for her and none for Harriett.

This also wasn’t the deep south were these kinds of master/slave activities went on regularly and unnoticed by virtue of the massive number of slaves on hand and the “everyone does it” type of justification. Slaves were rare in Hancock County, very rare. There was no call for slaves as the ground was relatively nonproductive and could barely produce enough for one family. No slave labor was needed. This begs the question of why William bought a young female slave in the first place. I’d suggest maybe that it was to provide household assistance to his wife, but I’d also suggest that perhaps his wife would have chosen not to have that much help. I also have to wonder why Harriett didn’t have more children. Perhaps she died having a second or third child. Oral history says “children” not child. If they lived as a family in one house, that also explains why Mary took Cannon as her own. Cannon may never have known any mother except Mary, depending on his age when Harriett died. Regardless, Mary had to have a big heart to do that, to take Cannon, love and raise him as her own, given the circumstances. He obviously repaid her in kind. Family love sees no colors, even in the post-slave south. This also explains why my family for the next two generations lived in the “mixed race” area of Hoop Creek.

Oral history goes on to say that when William died, he left his land to all of his children, including his children by Harriett. I only found evidence of one of Harriett’s children that reached adulthood. In 1870, Cannon does have assets, but at the time William died, he would not have legally been able to leave anything to Cannon because Cannon was still enslaved. It’s certainly possible that Mary left Cannon something, but we’ll never know because those records were burned during the Civil War.

And now, the question that I know you’re all dying to ask. Was Cannon really the son of William Herrell?

A few years ago, I was contacted by descendants of Cannon Herrell. It was interesting to compare the family stories. It was evident that there was certainly a common thread in both families stories.

We undertook various DNA tests to determine just that. Was Cannon William’s son? Were we related?

Between the three of us, we spent quite a bit of time locating the right people to test, and convincing them of why we needed the test. Here’s a picture of the three of us when we started our journey of discovery.

Herrell reveal

And then, the time came. We elected to meet at the Cumberland Gap Homecoming that was sponsored by our Cumberland Gap DNA group, and we would reveal the results. Of course, we also used the opportunity to teach about how to utilize the various kinds of DNA.

On the first day, we did a teaser, a background story. We created a composite of all of the ancestor photos that we could find of both sides that would potentially be related if William was Cannon’s father.

Herrell collage

So, what do you think?

Is William Harrell the father of Cannon Harrell?



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Anne Woodward Estes, the Mariner’s Widow, 52 Ancestors #16

Anne or Ann Woodward married Robert Estes, a mariner, in St. Nicholas Church in Sholden on December 2, 1591, a Monday. Given when she married and her age when she last bore children, she would have been born around 1573 or so.

We don’t know a lot about Anne, we don’t know who here parents were and we know nothing of her early life, before she married. We do know that the Woodward family would have been members of the St. Nicholas of Sholden church at that time, and that if her marriage record exists, surely other church records exist as well. Her parents and perhaps her birth are surely recorded here.

St Nicholas Sholden

St. Nicholas was constructed in the 1200s and portions of the original church remain. It is located on the original Sandwich/Deal road which passed right through what is now the graveyard with the doorway being on the north side of the church, now enclosed. The present road was constructed in 1795, so after Anne was long buried in Ringwould.

This church was heavily damaged during WWII, in April 1941, but in the nave, some of the original components still remain, believed to date from 1070-1120. The church was not reopened until 1947 when repairs were complete. The bell tower and north isle were added in 13th and 14th centuries when the church was only a few hundred years old.

Here is the Shoulden church in 1918 before it was damaged in WWII, but it is surely more beautiful today.

St Nicholas Sholden 1918

St Nicholas Sholden door

The bride would have come in from the rear of the church, through these doors, and would have walked down this aisle, unless she entered from the now converted original porch, shown below. This porch would be a remnant of the time when the road passed through the churchyard on this side of the church. Today, this is the “back” but at one time, it was the front.

St Nicholas Sholden original porch

She would have proceeded to the nave, where she and Robert would have been married, hopefully on a bright sunny day like the day was when we visited in September 2013.

The first child born to Robert and Anne Woodward Estes was born and baptized in Shoulden, but in 1595, they moved down the road a few miles to Ringwould where they would become members of St. Nicholas church there, and where they would live the rest of their lives. There are no Woodward records in that church, so Sholden was definitely the home church of the Woodward family.

The baptismal font in which Anne’s first child was baptized still exists today. The basin and stem are 14th and 15th century, respectively.

St Nicholas Sholden bapistry crop

1. Matthew Eastes, baptized 11 June 1592 at Sholden, Kent, died as an infant.

2. Sylvester Eastes, baptized 26 September 1596 at Ringwould, Kent;

3. Alice Eastes, baptized 26 March 1597 at Ringwould, married Thomas Beane, 28 October 1628 at Ringwould. They had children Christopher (1628); Richard (1632) of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, Kent; Mary (1636) of Great Mongeham, Kent; Sarah (1638) of Westminster, London; Judith (1642); and, Thomas (1643) of All Hallows Staining, London. The bolded entries reflect possibilities for mitochondrial DNA testing of descendants.

4. Matthew Eastes, mariner, born 1601, Ringwould, Kent, died 1621, buried 4 June 1621, St Leonard’s, Deal, Kent, he married Margaret Johnson, 23 November 1620, Deal, Kent. Margaret died and was buried 15 October 1622, St Leonard’s, Deal, Kent. Children: Martha (1621) of Deal, Kent, and William (1621-1687) of Ringwould, Kent.

5. Robert Eastes, Jr. was baptized 29 May 1603, Ringwould, Kent, he married Dorothy Wilson, 31 January 1634, Ringwould, Kent. Children: Robert (1635), Thomas (1636), Sylvester (1638), Sarah (1640), infant (1643) of Ringwould, Kent, Matthew (1645-1723) and Richard (1647-1737), both born at Dover, Kent and died in America. This is the “Northern Estes” line that settled in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

6. Thomas Eastes, baptized 2 June 1605 at Ringwould, Kent, died in 1671, at Ringwould, Kent, he married Joan Wilson, 21 November 1636, at Ringwould, Kent.

7. Susan Eastes, baptized 30 October 1608 at Ringwould, Kent.

8. John Eastes, baptized 3 March 1610 at Ringwould, Kent, he spent the latter years of his life in poverty, living on parish assistance. John died in 1684, at Ripple, Kent.

9. (Male) Eastes, born in 1616 at Ringwould, Kent, died at birth.

ISt Nicholas Sholden interior

The church is beautiful, inside and out.

St Nicholas Sholden cemetery

Since we don’t know who Anne’s parents were, but we do know that this was her home church, I surely have to wonder if they are buried in this very hallowed ground. They must surely be here. Perhaps her grandparents too, and siblings. Even after Anne and Robert Estes moved, Anne was surely back in this church regularly throughout her lifetime.

The church records at St. Nicholas of Ringwould tell us about her children’s baptisms, beginning in 1596. She had additional children in 1598, 1605, 1608 and in 1610 according to church records, and then 1616 happened. It was a terrible year for the Estes family, and for Anne in particular. She and Robert had been married for 25 years. They had several children at home ages, 6 through 20. Anne was pregnant again, expecting her last child, given that she was about 43 years of age. But then tragedy struck. On November 4th, Robert Eustace, householder, was buried. And then 3 days before Christmas, a baby girl was born, and died, before she could be baptized.

Anne was left with 5 children and no husband. Fortunately, her eldest 2 children were males. That’s probably all that saved her. Five years later, her son, Matthew, a mariner, age 20, would die as well, followed by his wife a year later. Who raised their baby? Did Anne take that child to raise as well?

Nov. 4, 1616 – Robert Eustace, householder buried

Dec. 22, 1616 – daughter of Robert Eustace, not baptized, buried

St Nicholas Ringwould entrance

In 1625, Anne’s children began to marry in this church.

Her son Sylvester Estes was the first, marrying Ellen Martin. That must have been a joyful day, and the next year would welcome Ellen’s first child into the world, baptized there as well, from the same baptismal font in which Anne’s own children had been baptized.

St Nicholas Ringwould bapistry

More grandchildren arrived and in 1628, her daughter was married as well.

And then there is this solemn entry for Anne’s own death in 1630.

May 18, 1630 – Anne Esties, widdowe, buried

Anne must have been ill, because she made a will on April 4, 1630. It was probated June 9, 1630. Estes researcher Don Bowler found it years ago, but when it was requested from the UK National Archives, they reported that it doesn’t exist. Perhaps Estes was spelled in some odd way.

Anne, Robert and their daughter born in 1616 are all buried in the churchyard at St. Nicholas of Ringwould. Their son Matthew who died in 1621 may be buried here too, assuming he didn’t drown. That could have been Robert’s fate as well. Both men were mariners.

St Nicholas Ringwould cemetery

Perhaps they are buried someplace near this centuries old yew that stands silent sentry over generations of Estes descendants of Robert, the mariner, who died in 1616 and Anne, his wife who died in 1630. This yew would have seen their burials.

St Nicholas Ringwould yew

There is a Woodward DNA project, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone who has tested that can track their lines back to Kent. I’ll gladly offer a scholarship to any Woodward male from this Kent line. I would also be very interested in obtaining the transcribed church records from Sholden in Deal in order to determine the parents of Anne Woodard.

I would also love to offer a scholarship for mitochondrial DNA testing for anyone who descends from Anne through all females to the current generation. If we can determine her parents and siblings, she may also have sisters who may have eligible descendants today. Alice had 2 daughter, but nothing is known of Susan aside from her baptism record. Alice is the only female to survive long enough to marry and reproduce. Alice had 3 daughter, Mary, Sarah and Judith burn in 1636, 1638 and 1642. We know nothing about what happened to these daughters. Maybe they are lurking in your tree???

If you descend from the Kent Woodward family or have access to the Sholden church records, please contact me!!



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The White Cliffs of Dover

Jim and I discovered when we were booking the DNA journey that the airfare was a pretty big chunk of the cost of the trip. We also like to cruise, and in particular, we love the Mediterranean. However, there were no cruises leaving the right place at the right time for the Mediterranean, but there was one leaving, as luck would have it, the day after we returned to London from the Cotswolds and the Ribble Valley, out of Dover, just down the road. Well, in England, everything is just down the road, as compared with the US. It’s an island, after all.

Woo hoo. Off we go on another adventure.

This cruise lasted 12 days on the Carnival Legend and circled the British Isles as well as stopping in two European ports. My ancestral families were from all over this part of the world, so I can’t go anyplace over here without some kind of ancestral connection. It’s a wonderful problem to have!!!

Our friend, Said, came to get us in his magic carpet Mercedes and we had a wonderful opportunity to chat on the way to Dover.  He also took me to a couple of quilt shops on the way to the boat, although there weren’t many. I did manage to find a couple of things, including a couple of tea towels. Sometimes, you just have to make do.

I had been wanting to see the White Cliffs of Dover for years, and had been looking forward to this for weeks. You see, my Estes family is from Kent, just 8 miles up the road. They were fishermen, mariners, and yes, they would have been intimately familiar with these white cliffs. They would have been a landmark for the sailors and fisherman then just as they are today. The castle is still there guarding those cliffs too, probably looking much the same today as 400-500 years ago, especially if you add a little mist or fog to hide the automobiles and modern roads.

The first photo is of the fort and castle of Dover and the second is a panoramic view of the white cliffs.  In WW2 our pilots used the white cliffs as a sign they were near safety.

White cliffs of Dover

I wonder what my ancestors would think if they knew that some 500+ years after they were fishing here that their 10 times great-granddaughter would come back and would stand right here.

Dover and Me

Of course, my Estes family wasn’t the only ancestral family that lived here. We’ll talk about the Estes line when we return. Yes, Jim and I will be visiting the family lands, churches and villages for a few days when we come back into port. I couldn’t be this close and not visit.

However, I was unsuccessful in determining anything about the families of the women from this area who married Estes men. I’m hopeful that perhaps someone will see this list and recognize a name from this region. I did check the associated DNA projects without any luck.

Robert Eastye married Anne Woodward in Shoulden, Kent, just up the road from Deal, on December 2, 1591.

Their son Sylvester Eastye married Ellen Martin just down the road in Ringwould, Kent in 1625. Ellen was reportedly from Great Hadres or Hardres, spelled both ways, nearby.

Records for these families are found in or referring to Great Hardres (A), Deal (C), Shoulden (C), adjacent Deal, Ringwould (D), Waldershare (between D and Dover), Nonington (E) and last, Sandwich (B), where our immigrant ancestor was apprenticed. Records for the Martin or Woodward family from these locations would be immensely helpful. It appears from the church records that families actually were surprisingly mobile within this area.

Kent map

After boarding the ship, during the welcome reception, we met our old friend, John Heald. He was the cruise director on our first cruise too. Just suffice it to say that, ahem, he remembered Jim. It was great to see John again. He brightens every day and is quintessentially English.

This, by the way, is the lobby area. These ships are “brightly decorated,” to say the least.


Over the years I’ve discovered a couple of things about cruising. First, shawls are very lightweight and can dress even a t-shirt up enough for dinner. Black works with any color. Second, you’ll want to carry a small purse, but it doesn’t need to be any bigger than to hold a lip gloss and your room key. You don’t need anything else on board the ship. This one I’m carrying, my Mom crocheted for me at least 20 years ago, “in case you have someplace fancy to go.” Well, Mom, I do, and you’re along for the ride.

I know this next photo looks like I’m in jail, but I swear, I’m not. This sunset shot was taken from our dinner table out the window. I know, you’re not buying a word of this are you?


Oh yes, another cruise tip…your American Express card will get you out of jail around the world, not that I know personally of course. I do know from the couple that got themselves stranded (twice) and missed the ship’s departure in Istanbul on a previous cruise that your American Express card will purchase plane tickets, limo service, and save your sorry butt when you go into Asia where they tell you not to go! And yes, they did it, not once, but twice, on the same cruise. Let’s just say that the first time everyone felt a little sorry for them, but the second time, they WERE the entertainment until the end of the cruise. A honeymoon they won’t soon forget, or live down.

Now Jim and I have a tradition, and you’re just going to have to suffer through it along with us on this cruise, since you’ve joined us on our journey. Every night, while you’re at dinner, your cabin steward creates a “towel animal” and leaves it on your bed. So every night when we return to our cabin, our towel animal gets posed with something from our day. Yes, I know it’s kind of corny, but it’s a lot of fun and we’ve done it for years now, since our very first cruise. So it’s our tradition!

Oh, and by the way, my first cruise was a genealogy cruise to the Caribbean with my Claxton cousin and his wife who I had met through genealogy and are now my Claxton/Clarkson DNA Project co-admins! Yes, I shamelessly recruited them.

When my cousin’s wife asked if I wanted to go on the cruise, I walked into Jim’s office and announced, “I’m going on a genealogy cruise.” He pronounced, “Well, I’m going with you.” I said, “But you don’t even like genealogy.” He said, “So what.” Well, he has a point. You can’t be bored on a cruise or if you are, it’s entirely your own fault.

Towel seal

Today our towel animal, who might be a seal, is proudly displaying fabric from the quilt shops, along with the business card from the shop and a Carnival pin.

Bon voyage!!!



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Ellin Martin (c 1600 – 1649) a Bride in Ringwould, Kent – 52 Ancestors #15

Ellin Martin was born around 1600, possibly in Great Hardres (Hadres,) and was married to Sylvester Eastye November 24, 1625 in the church in Ringwould, Kent. He died before 1667 when his daughter was married. Ellen died in 1649 with a will that tells us at that time she was living in Waldershare. Documentation by other researchers states that both documents, her marriage and her will, respectively, state that she was “of Great Hardres,” but I have not seen evidence of this in either document. I find it difficult to believe this very specific piece of information was not located someplace, though because it is too specific, and a bit distant, to have been grabbed out of thin air.

The location called Great Hardres in the record indicating where Ellen Martin was born is now called Upper and Lower Hardres, noted as twin villages. We did not get to visit either as they are about 20 miles distant and much closer to Canterbury. If Ellen indeed was born here, they it’s likely that this church is ripe with her relatives and ancestors.

I’m not terribly clear what record indicated that Ellen was in fact born in Great Hardres. It’s reported to be her marriage record from 1625 in Ringwould, but transcribed records provided by the church do not include or indicate this information. What this means is that it’s quite likely that relevant information to these records may not all have been transcribed and it would probably be worth our while to have these records retranscribed, including Martin records from Ringwould. This information could also be in the Bishop’s returns, the records that were supposedly duplicates sent periodically by the church to the Bishop.

I am still somewhat baffled about how she would have met Robert Estes who lived some 20+ miles distant. That’s a long way to walk and that was the transportation available at the time. It’s more plausible that her family moved to Ringwould, in which case, there might well be additional records that contain valuable information. There are some Martin records in Ringwould’s church records, but not many.

The church below is St. Peter and St. Paul at Upper Hardres Court. Parts of this church date from the 1200s. A newer church was built 3 miles away in the twin village of Lower Hardres in the 1800s, but this would have been the church in which Ellen Martin was baptized in about 1600. I would surely love to see these church records.

Upper Hardres church

Sylvester married on 24 November 1625, at Ringwould, Kent, Ellin Martin. Ellin was born about 1600 and died in 1649 at Ringwould, Kent, two years after the birth of her last child, our ancestor, Abraham. Ellin’s will states she was born at Waldershire, but at her marriage she reportedly gave her origin as Great Hadres, and her name perhaps as “Hellen Martine.” I don’t see any birth location reflected in the original records below.

Ellen Martin marriage

Here is the entire page that includes their marriage. You can see that this was a small church, with only 2 marriages that year, 14 christenings and about as many burials.

Ellen Martin marriage page

St Nicholas at Ringwould

The church at Ringwould was certainly beautiful and served as a respite for me that fine fall day in Kent as well. It seems that Jim and I had a bit of excitement with the rental car, and just suffice it to say that I desperately needed a break, even though we had only driven about 6 miles, on the wrong side of the road of course, from where we rented our car in Dover. But that hair-raising story will have to wait.

The village of Ringwould was first recorded more than 200 years before the Domesday survey, in an Anglo-Saxon Charter dated 861 AD under the name of Roedligwealda (the forest of Hredel’s people). The site of a Roman period farm has been identified close to the present Ripple windmill; which is in the parish, although metal detector finds and other relics which have been found, suggest that the area was populated well before the Roman invasion. The oldest coin ever found in England was discovered by a metal detectorist working close to Ringwould. It seems probable that the village was established sometime during the Anglo-Saxon period, probably in the 6th century AD, and certainly well before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

The village of Ringwould has about 350 residents and is about the size today that it was when our ancestors lived nearby or in the village itself. The church connects both front and back street and is, in essence, the center of the village. It was also the center of village life. Musters were help here for defense and below the church in the field, target practice was held with arrows hewn from the cedar trees in the churchyard.

St Nicholas Ringwould path

The walkway to the church through the center of the village remains today. It used to be a cart path, and it had to be at least 30 inches wide in order to accommodate the width of 2 pall bearers and a casket.

However, on that special day, on Monday, November 24, 1625 there are no caskets approaching the church, but instead, a wedding party. After walking past the old forge, the building on the right, the gate to the church yard would be up ahead. Inside the gate would be the gravestones of all of those relatives who had gone ahead, and perhaps a few siblings who never made it beyond childhood. This was not an anonymous place. There is no room for grief today, although the bride may have paused for a moment to quietly pay her respects if her parents were in the churchyard waiting silently for her, or perhaps her grandparents, as they motioned her inside with feathered, wispy fingers.

St Nicholas Ringwould entrance

When Sylvester and Ellen got married, the bride entered from the doorway of the church and the first part of the service was actually conducted in the doorway. I’m thinking that in Catholic times, it would have been a blessing or cleansing of some sort. Ellen would have walked up the walk to the church, in the center of Ringwould, and into this door the day she married Sylvester.

St Nicholas Ringwould door

Many of the events of their lives together would transpire here as well, including, just 10 months later, the baptism of their first child.

Sylvester and Ellin Martin Estes had the following children. Note that descendants of females with bolded names would be potentially be mitochondrial DNA candidates.

1. Robert Eastes, baptized 10 September 1626, Ringwould, Kent, died 1692 and buried 23 June 1692, Waldershire, Kent, married Elizabeth, who died in 1676 at Waldershire, Kent, and was buried 8 August 1676. Married second Margaret Coachman, 26 June 1688, Hadres, Kent. Children: Robert (1652), Elizabeth (1653), Susan (1655), Silvester (1657-1692) of Waldershare, Kent;

2. Anne Eastes, baptized 25 November 1627 at Ringwould, Kent, died young;

3. Silvester Eastes, (a female) baptized 31 May 1629 at Ringwould, Kent, married a Nash.

4. Susan Eastes, baptized 30 March 1631 at Ringwould, Kent.

5. Thomas Eastes, baptized 20 January 1633, Ringwould, Kent, died 15 April 1682, Pelham, Kent, married Sarah and had children: John (1665) of Waldershare, Kent, and later of Acrise, Kent.

6. Richard Eastes, baptized 5 October 1634, at Ringwould, Kent.

7. Mary Eastes, baptized 2 October 1636 at Ringwould, Kent.

8. Anne Eastes, born 1637 at Ringwould, Kent. [There is some doubt as to whether this child belongs to this family.]

9. Nicholas Eastes, yeoman, baptized 9 December 1638 at Nonington, Kent, married Jane Birch, died 1665, Sutton, Kent. Children: John (?-1715) of Sutton.

10. Elizabeth Eastes, born 1639/40 at Nonington, Kent.

11. Ellen Eastes, baptized 11 December 1642, Nonington, Kent, died 1729 and buried 26 December 1729 at St Leonard’s, Kent. Married Moses Eastes, 23 December 1667, at Deal, Kent. Moses was baptized 12 November 1643 at St Leonard’s, Kent and died at Deal, 19 March 1707/8 & buried 23 March, at St Leonard’s, Kent. Children: Richard (1667/8-1668), Constant (1669-1708), Aaron (1671) & Samuel (1674/5), of St Leonard’s, Kent. Ellen was the second wife of Moses Eastes, her second cousin once removed.

12. John Eastes, baptized 29 December 1644 at Nonington, Kent.

13. Abraham Eastes, born 1647, probably at Nonington, Kent, married Anne Burton (widow), 29 December 1672, at Worth, Kent. Abraham them immigrated to America and married Barbara, long rumoured to be Barbara Brock, without one shred of evidence. Abraham died November 21, 1720 in King and Queen County, Virginia.

Sylvester and Ellen’s children born between 1626 and 1636 were baptized in Ringwould, but the ones born between 1638 and 1644 were baptized in Nonington. There is no baptismal record for Anne born in 1637 or for our Abraham born in 1647, but based on his brother’s 1644 baptismal record in Nonington, it’s presumed Abraham was born there was well. St. Mary’s church in Nonington is shown below, although we were unable to visit.

St Marys Nonington cropped

St Marys Nonington interior

Nonington is about half way between Ellen Martin’s potiential birth location in Great Hardres (Hadres) and the Ringwould area where the rest of the Estes family was located, although there are no further Estes records and no Martin records in the church records there.

Suffice it to say that indeed, St. Nicholas church in Ringwould is steeped and bathed in the history of the Estes family as well as that of their wives.  Many Estes children, my ancestors, were baptized in this very baptismal font.

St Nicholas Ringwould bapistry

Most of Ellen’s children were baptized here.

Ellen and Sylvester regularly attended church in Ringwould. Sylvester was sometimes a church warden there according to Deal Parish records.

Sylvester died sometime after Abraham’s birth in 1647 and before his wife, Ellen, died, with a will in 1649. The last family record at Ringwould is 1644.

Ellen died in 1649 at Waldershire, just down the road from Ringwould, before she was 50 years of age. Many of her children were young. Abraham, the youngest, was only 2 years old. It must have pained her greatly to know that she was going to leave them, and in doing so, leave them as orphans.

In Ellen’s will, shown below, she tells us who her children are and makes the best provisions she can to care for them. It’s the one peek at her life that we have, directly from her….albeit probably through an attorney or equivalent of the time. One thing is for sure, the woman did have some financial means. This family was not poverty stricken.

Ellen Martin Estes will

In the name of God, Amen, the fifth day of April 1649, I, Elin Estes [sic] of the parish of Waldershire [sic] in the County of Kent widow, being sick in body but in perfect memory thanks be given to God, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following,

First, I bequeath my soul to Almighty God hoping by the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ to enjoy Everlasting life and my body to the Earth to be buried at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named.

First, I give to my son, Thomas Estes, twenty pounds of current money of England to be paid to him as followeth, that is to say, ten pounds at his age of twenty and one years of age and ten pounds when my youngest child shall come to the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my son, Richard Estes, the sum of five pounds when he shall attain to the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my son, Nicholas Estes, fifteen pounds to be paid to him when he shall attain the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my son, John Estes, twelve pounds to be paid to him when he shall attain the age of one and twenty years.

Item, I give to my son, Abraham Estes, the sum of twelve pounds to be paid to him when he shall attain to the age of one and twenty years.

Item, I give to my daughter, Anne Estes, twelve pounds to be paid to her at her age of four and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to my daughter, Silvester Nash, five pounds when my youngest child cometh to the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my daughter, Susan Estes, the sum of twelve pounds to be paid to her when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to my daughter, MaryEstes, ten pounds to be paid to her when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to my daughter, Elizabeth Estes, ten pounds to be paid to her [next few words crossed through but said: “when she shall attain”] at her age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to Ellin Estes, my daughter, ten pounds to be paid to her when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

And I do nominate and appoint Robert Estes, my son, whole and sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament and I give to my said son, Robert Estes, all my goods, chattels and household stuff paying my debts and legacies and funeral expenses.

In witness that this is my last Will, I do hereby publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament in the presence of those whose names are hereunder written:

Thomas Jenkin, John Peers

Ellin Estes, her mark

Her will was proved at London before Sir Nathaniel Brent, Knight, doctor of laws and Master or keeper of the Prerogative Court the sixth day of December in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred fifty one by the oath of Robert Estes, the son of the deceased and Executor therein named to whom administration of all and singular the goods, chattels and debts of the said deceased which any manner of ways sworn the same will was granted and committed, he being first legally sworn by virtue of a commission in that behalf issued forth well and truly to administer the same.

I have always wondered why Ellin’s will was probated in London.

At time time of Ellen’s death, she would probably have been attending the church at Waldershare, All Saints Church, which is no longer in service. Like many others in the area, it has a rebuilt Victorian Nave. Jim and I were not able to visit, but it is found on Sandwich Road, Waldershare, near Dover.

The proportions of the building are dramatically affected by the two red-brick chapels on either side of the chancel, both of which were built after Ellen’s death, so the church she knew would have been the original one without the additions.

This is likely where Anne is buried, unless her family took her down the road to Ringwould to be buried with her husband, assuming he was buried at Ringwould. It would be interesting to check the Waldershare church burial records to see if she is listed. For that matter, Sylvester could be buried there as well as Abraham’s christening record.

All Saints Waldershare

All Saints Waldershare interior

Ellen’s eldest son, Robert, born in 1626, would found the Waldershare Estes line. Interestingly, Robert in 1670 and again in 1680 donated money towards the redemption of English captives “out of ye Turkish slavery.

While we have managed to piece together some of Ellen’s short life, we are still left with the question of who her parents were. It feel like it’s most likely that they were all members of the same church and lived in the same area. A young couple has to live in relative proximity to court.

The church in Ringwould was gracious enough to provide their transcribed church records in a binder. I photographed the entire grouping and later extracted the relevant surnames.

Ringwould Church Records

Ringwould church records begin in 1569 and include christenings, burials and beginning in 1572, marriages. I did not copy any beyond 1746. These records were transcribed from the originals and provided at the church in Ringwould, where I photographed the pages and have extracted various surnames from their transcription.

Based on the records shown below, the Martin family in Ringwould, living the before Ellen’s marriage to Sylvester, appear to descend from the progenitor, William, who married first Margaret Clark in 1576 and then Elizabeth Hart in 1584. Both wives died, Elizabeth passing in 1597. The only name resembling Ellen is Emlin born in 1580, which would make this person too old to be having children as late as 1647. Based on these records, there are obviously some records missing, such as Thomas’s wedding and the birth of Nicholas who married in 1621.

From the looks of things, Ellen, if born in roughly 1600 could have been a child of a third marriage of William whose wife died in 1697, although he is referred to as “an aged man” at his death in 1614. If he was just age 25 when he first married in 1576, he would have been 63 in 1614. That was certainly aged for that time. However, even “aged men” could and did father children. Ellen could also have been the daughter of Thomas who would have been age 23 in 1600. If that is the case, then William Martin and Margaret Clarke would have been her grandparents. Of course, it’s also possible that her parents had already passed away and she was sent here to live with Martin relatives. It’s worth noting here that her first male child was named Robert for Sylvester’s father but their second male child is named Thomas. There is no William.


March 5, 1575 – Roger Howell and Beatrix Martyn, married

Nov. 19, 1576 – William Martin and Margaret Clarke, married

April 16, 1677 – Thomas Martyn, son of William christened

Nov. 1, 1579 – Nicholas Martyn, son of William christened

Nov. 8, 1579 – Nicholas Martin, son of William buried

Jan. 22, 1580 – Emlin, daughter of William christened

April 23, 1584 – John Martyn, son of William christened
May 24, 1584 – Margaret Martyn, wife of William buried
June 24, 1584 – William Martyn and Elizabeth Harte married
July 25, 1584 – John, son of William buried

April 21, 1597 – Elizabeth Martyn, wife of William buried

Jan. 10, 1607 – Margaret Martin, daughter of Thomas christened

April 13, 1614 – William Martin, an aged man, buried

April 28, 1614 – Margaret Martin, daughter of Thomas buried

May 29, 1621 – Nicolas Martin and Elizabeth Whitten married

July 23, 1622 – Margaret Martin, daughter of Nicolas christened

Nov. 24, 1625 – Silvester Esties and Ellen Martin married

Was Ellen the daughter of Thomas or William Martin?

Note – In Ellen supposedly was born in Great Hardres, although that location is probably at least 20 miles distant and it begs the question of why the family came to Ringwould, and when. However, familiarity and family ties in that area may also explain why the Estes family moved back in that direction some 10 miles to Nonington during the English Civil War. However, one of her sons did marry someone from Hardres, so it’s certainly possible. This marriage makes me wonder if there were relatives in that area.

July 29, 1627 – Thomas Martin, son of Nicholas christened
Aug. 6, 1627 – Thomas Martin, son of Nicholas buried

July 27, 1628 – Jane Martin, daughter of Nicholas christened

Jan. 9, 1630 – Thomas Martin, son of Nicholas christened

Sept. 15, 1633 – Ellenor Martin, daughter of Nicholas christened

April 12, 1635 – Nicholas Martin, son of Thomas and Elizabeth

Jan 21, 1637 – John Martin, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth

September 13, 1640 – Elizabeth Martin, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth christened

April 4, 1643 – Mary Martin, daughter of Nicholas christened

Nov. 14, 1644 – Wilman Martin, wife of Thomas, buried

Dec. 29, 1647 – John Martin, son of Nicholas buried

March 24, 1664 –William Martin buried

April 16, 1688 – Daniel Martin and Margaret Bradly married

Feb. 28, 1699 – Nicholas Martin, buried

April 16, 1716 – Mary Martin buried

Ellen Martin’s DNA

In order to obtain Ellen’s mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only passed on by their mother, we would need to find a female child of Ellen who also had female children, to the present generation. In the present generation, the descendant can be a male, so long as they descend from Ellen through all females.

To begin this process, we only have information that two of the daughters lived to adulthood, although we can’t assume that the rest didn’t.

Of the children we know of who did live to adulthood, Ellen married Moses Eastes and had one daughter, Constant, born in 1699, christened at St. Leonard’s Church in Deal, and who subsequently died in 1708.

The other daughter who may have married is Silvester who reportedly married a Nash.

Unfortunately, we have no information about any other daughters, and the presumption is that they died young. Of course, presumptions are related to assumptions.

The only other possibility of obtaining Ellen Martin’s mitochondrial DNA is to figure out who her parents were, and then figuring out if she had any sisters who had daughters to the current generation.

I turned to both Rootsweb and Ancestry to see if perhaps my records were incomplete for this family. Unfortunately, the few female lines there are daughtered out quickly, and as for the rest of the daughters….maybe they didn’t die young. Maybe someone knows something about this family. They don’t seem to have been researched, so perhaps either there is a goldmine waiting to be harvested, or the lines have died out, which is why no one has documented this lineage.

I have a scholarship for either Ellen’s mitochondrial DNA or the Martin Yline from this group of individuals. In the Martin surname project, there seem to be three Martins from Kent, but I can’t tell who is who, assuming that any one of the three could be mine. Bottom line, I would love to have someone from this family line test.

If this is your Martin line, please give me a shout. If nothing else, we can compare records and autosomal DNA!!!



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Chester and the Cotswolds, UK

We are finishing the British portion of our DNA trip by visiting Chester and the Cotswolds. Did you know, in England, that you can’t be considered a city if you don’t have a cathedral? No cathedral, no city. And no, of course there is no intermixing of church and state here – whatever made you think such a thing?

The city of Chester is an old city with a rich history with a lot of ethnic admixture.

Chester was founded as a “castrum” or Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix in the year 79 by the Roman Legion II Adiutrix during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. Chester’s four main roads, Eastgate, Northgate, Watergate and Bridge, follow routes laid out at this time – almost 2,000 years ago.

Eastgate 1880s

This painting shows Eastgate in the 1880s.

One of the three main Roman army camps, Deva later became a major settlement in the Roman province of Britannia.

Chester Roman fort

A diorama of the Roman Legionary fortress Deva Victrix, courtesy of the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.

The Roman Empire fell three hundred years later, and the Romano-British established a number of petty kingdoms in its place. Chester is thought to have been part of Powys at this time. King Arthur is said to have fought his ninth battle at the city of the legions and later St Augustine came to the city to try and unite the church and hold his synod with the Welsh Bishops. In 616, Æthelfrith of Northumbria defeated a Welsh army at the Battle of Chester and probably established the Anglo-Saxon position in the area from then on.

In the late 7th century, (AD 689) King Æthelred of Mercia founded the Minster Church of West Mercia on what is considered to be an early Christian Site and known as The Minster of St John the Baptist, Chester (now St John’s Church) which later became the first cathedral.

The Saxons extended and strengthened the walls of Chester to protect the city against the Danes, who occupied it for a short time until Alfred seized all the cattle and laid waste the surrounding land to drive them out. The Anglo-Saxons called Chester Ceaster or Legeceaster.

In 973, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle records that, two years after his coronation at Bath, King Edgar of England, came to Chester where he held his court in a palace in a place now known as Edgar’s field near the old Dee bridge in Handbridge. Taking the helm of a barge, he was rowed the short distance up the River Dee from Edgar’s field to the great Minster Church of St John the Baptist by six (the monk Henry Bradshaw records he was rowed by eight kings) tributary kings called ‘reguli’.

Chester was one of the last towns in England to fall to the Normans in the Norman conquest of England. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of a castle, to dominate the town and the nearby Welsh border.

The cathedral in Chester is very interesting, as is the history of the city.  We only had an hour there with the guide.  The city is a walled city – Roman walls – still intact and you can walk them – but we didn’t have time.  Such an ancient location.  The Roman soldiers who built Hadrian’s Wall were stationed here, and came back afterwards.  There were settled Danes and settled Anglo-Saxons and groups of people living in ethnically distinct neighborhoods within the city walls trading with the Romans.  Is it any wonder we find such a mixture of DNA from this part of England?

Chester guide

In the photo above, our guide is showing us a map of the old city. The orange is the fort and the pink is the city wall. No wonder we see so much intermixed DNA here.

Chester map

Here’s a 16th century map of Chester, above, and a modern day view, below. You can see the location of the old city walls on the contemporary map, but the city is obviously much larger today.

Chester satellite

As with all military forts, villages sprang up around the fort for purposes of trade and providing support services to the soldiers.

Chester ruins

You still find the Roman ruins scattered from place to place in the city.

A few years ago, a very interesting paper was written by Steven Bird about the areas surrounding the Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall. In his paper, titled, Haplogroup E3b1a2 as a Possible Indicator of Settlement in Roman Britain by Soldiers of Balkan Origin, Steven says that:

“The invasion of Britain by the Roman military in CE 43, and the subsequent occupation of Britain for nearly four centuries, brought thousands of soldiers from the Balkan peninsula to Britain as part of auxiliary units and as regular legionnaires. The presence of Haplogroup E3b1a-M78 among the male populations of present-day Wales, England and Scotland, and its nearly complete absence among the modern male population of Ireland, provide a potential genetic indicator of settlement during the 1st through 4th Centuries CE by Roman soldiers from the Balkan peninsula and their male Romano-British descendants.”

The location of Chester is shown on the map below.

Chester map 2

Byrd further says that, “The frequency of E3b in Britain was observed to be most prevalent in two regions; a geographic cluster of haplotypes extending from Wales eastward to the vicinity of Nottingham, encompassing the region surrounding Chester, and a second (NNE to SSW) cluster extending from Fakenham, Norfolk to Midhurst, Sussex.”

Byrd provided the following map to illustrate his findings.

Byrd map

The surprising part to me isn’t that Chester is such a “hotspot,” all things considered, but that Wales is as well. I don’t think of Wales in terms of the Roman occupation, but apparently I should have.

Wales is literally just next door as well, meaning you can see it, and it seems the people living in Chester had a hissy-sister-fit type of relationship with the Welsh for as long as anyone can remember.

Yep, that’s Wales, looking down this street to the end. The Welsh hills are in the distance. The people of Chester don’t put clocks on that side of buildings because they don’t “want to give the Welsh the time of day.”

Chester city hall

I’m not kidding about that “time of day” thing. Above, their beautiful City Hall with clocks on 3 sides of the tower. I’ll just let you guess which side is clockless.

Wales in the distance

The abbey is now gone of course, but this is the gate to where it once stood.  Underneath this gate they found a medieval wall, so this is not the first structure to grace this location.

Abbey gate

While the abbey is long gone, the Cathedral still exists and is splendid.

Chester cathedral

The cathedral door is original, and stunning.

Chester cathedral door

When inside the cathedral, the organist was practicing and it was an imposing sound.  I got some photos of the organist and the organ and pipes and it is really quite amazing.

Chester cathedral organ

This gives you the scope of the cathedral and the organ.  I think if you were afraid of heights, you couldn’t play this organ!

Chester cathedral organ 2

As with all of these early churches, the stained glass is phenomenal.

Chester cathedral window 2

The nave was begun in 1323, was halted due to the black plague and finally completed in the late 1400s.

Chester rood screen

The Rood Screen carvings are simply awe inspiring.

In this cathedral you find the remains of three earlier churches and the abbey was next door of course.  The abbey was destroyed during the forced change from Catholicism to Protestantism.  The cloisters remain, at least the ones attached to the cathedral.

Chester cloisters

This abbey was very wealthy because they told their patrons that if the family did not give all their money to the church, they were being selfish, because for money, the monks could pray their souls out of Purgatory to Heavens quicker.

Chester grave slab

This 13th century grave slab now resides in the cloisters, but was originally elsewhere on the grounds. There is no identification of who was buried beneath the slab.

Chester stone coffin

There is also a stone coffin found in the cloisters. The coffin was over six feet, six inches. This is unusually large for people of that time. Note the drain hole.

These old churches all have people buried in the floor inside.  This one is full of carved tombs and statues, but this one in the floor, small by comparison, and in a side nave, so obviously couldn’t afford a “good” spot, just spoke so loudly of heartbreak.

Chester floor burial

But God, or the King, served justice upon the wealthy abbey who had been extorting “prayer money” from the family of deceased patrons, because they were so rich that the King took notice and removed all of their riches and destroyed the abbey.

Chester quilt

This tapestry, which is really a quilt, hangs in the church as well.  It was created by a woman from the US who came to see the reenacted Bible stories.  These reenactments were discontinued after the reformation, because they were determined to “not be Christian” but have been historically reenacted for the past several years.

I just loved this quaint little street.

Chester street

Leaving the cathedral, we saw “The Rows” which begin in Godstall Lane across from the church in a small street, too small for modern cars.

Chester Godstall lane

Walking down Godstall Lane, where you exit on the other end, after it narrows even more, about a block or so from the beginning, is on the second row of buildings, or the second floor.

Chester the Rows

Can you see in the windows of the store below? When doing excavation work, old roman arches were found. You can visit today and have tea too.

Chester Rows arch

Here’s a larger photo of the area.

Chester Rows street

A couple of buildings on down the road is Bridge Street, one of only two bridges to connect to Wales originally – and anyone could go in, but you had to pay a toll to get out.  They seriously did not want the Welsh in England.


From there we drove through the northern part of Wales which looks a lot like England, although the Welsh would probably string you up if they heard you say that.  They still speak Welsh there and it’s multi-lingual, except in the north where many won’t speak English.  In south Wales, many don’t speak Welsh.  Hard to believe such a difference for such a small country.  It may be called the United Kingdom, but it’s anything but and there are significant regional differences within and between countries.  These are the mountains that divide Wales and England.

Wales mountains

Even stopping at gas stations here provides entertainment.

Button candy

We went on to have a late lunch in the Cotswolds.  I didn’t know what the Cotswolds were until today, but think of thatched roof cottages with flower gardens and English figurines and that’s the Cotswolds.


Cotswalds 2

Jim and I found a bakery and had a picnic in the town square sitting on the base of the war monument.  It wasn’t Arles in southern France or Stonehenge, but it was still a nice picnic and we didn’t spend our entire hour and a quarter there waiting to be served.  Instead, we spent money like tourists are supposed to do!

Cotswalds square

However, there was a chocolate shop, Cotswold Chocolates, and I had to visit and try the wares. The owner was a lovely lady and she had some TO DIE FOR dark chocolate dipped apricots. I have already checked to see if they ship overseas.

Cotswalds chocolates

We love to visit the local stores and see what local treats we can find to try. But….I drew the line…

Freeze dried insects

Stow is really a quite beautiful little village.  Lots of tourists think so too, but also lots of locals walking around, many with their dogs.  There is a dog water bowl in the doorway of many shops and signs saying dogs are welcome.  There was a farmers market in the square, of course with local veggies.

Queens Head Inn

I particularly like this reflective photo of the images in the old hand blown glass windows of the inn, above.

Cotswald windows

From the Cotswolds, we headed for London. The rest of the group was departing for home, but Jim and I were starting the second part of our trip – a cruise around the British Isles. This is particularly exciting for me, because I have family connections in several locations. In one location, we’ll be driving right past my family’s land and in another I’ll be visiting the clan castle.

I’ve been immersing myself in the history of the places where we have and will visit. One of my favorite books is Peter Akroyd’s, London, A Biography. He shares 2000 years of London’s history in very human form. He discusses the history, the culture, the people, the rich, the poor, the plague, the great fire…you name it, he talks about it. While contemporary London is certainly an outgrowth of the original London, it’s had changed dramatically. I can’t help but look at this map from the 15th century and wonder if this was the London my ancestor, Henry Bolton knew. We don’t really know where he was from, but oral history says London, and that he and his brother, Conrad were kidnapped and sold into indentured servitude after arriving in the states. We know he was in the US before the Revolutionary War and was born about 1759 or 1760 someplace, probably in England. Were these old London streets familiar to Henry and Conrad, his brother?

Old London map

The original map was in a book, known by the Latin name Civitates orbis terrarum, and was published in the German city of Cologne between 1572 and 1617 – just before many cities were destroyed by the Thirty Years War.

The book was intended to accompany an atlas of the world published in 1570 by renowned cartographer Abraham Ortelius.

More than 100 artists and cartographers worked on the originals, which as well as showing the cities’ main features, also included figures in local dress, ships, carts and topographical details.

It was thought that these details helped to show the political importance of the places that they accompany. This book included all of the major cities in Europe, but some elsewhere.

For map junkies, you can purchase this book of old maps, Cities of the World, £44.99, republished and available at

Take a look at the difference between the map above and a current day view of the same area.

Current London map

This has been a very hectic week and even at the end, still seems surreal, much as the sunrise at the Stirk House did yesterday. This evening among the hustle and bustle of London, Ribble Valley, Charnock Richard and Downham seems a very distant dream.



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Data Mining and Screen Scraping – Right or Wrong?

Data mining, also known as screen scraping has been occurring in the genetic genealogy community for some time now. I had hoped that peer pressure and time would take care of the issue and it would resolve itself, but it has not.

This topic has become somewhat of the pink elephant in the middle of the living room. People are whispering. Some people have adopted the pink elephant as a pet.  Some are trying to ignore it.  A few haven’t noticed and some just kind of accept its presence since no one seems to be able to convince it to leave.  But no one has yet to walk in, take a look, and say “Hey, there’s a pink elephant in the living room.”

pink elephant

Well folks, there’s a pink elephant in the living room and we’re going to talk about it today.

What is Screen Scraping and Data Mining?

Screen scraping and data mining is where (generally) robots visit certain sites online on a scheduled basis and harvest data that is residing there. The harvested data may be used privately after that, or may be reformatted and massaged and then displayed differently on a public site. No notification is given or permission is asked to use the data.

Screen scraping and data mining is different than one person doing a Google search for information about their genealogy or their ancestor utilizing online resources. Screen scraping or data mining is the capturing or targeting of entire data bases. Mining implies searching for just one type of data – like maybe a certain haplogroup – and scraping implies taking everything viewable.  Best case, it’s Google spidering sites for indexing.  Worst case, they are thieves in the night. Like many things, the technology can be used for bad or good.

Let me give you an example which illustrates how I initially discovered this issue.

I administer several projects at Family Tree DNA – both surname and haplogroup. One of my surname project members e-mailed me one day in March of 2013 with a jovial note about their “15 minutes of fame.” The essence of this is that they had just transferred their National Geographic results to Family Tree DNA and the next day, found their results with their new SNPs they were so proud of on a website in Russia. Because of the quality of the site and how quickly those results appeared, they presumed that this was a collaborate research effort between either Family Tree DNA and/or National Geographic and the Russian site.

I took a look, and sure enough, he was right. There, big as life, was his DNA SNPs, his surname and his kit number, on an unauthorized site. I clearly knew that the website was not collaborative, but I confirmed with Family Tree DNA just to be sure, who was aware of it but could not do anything about the screen scraping of the DNA projects.

At that point, my project member attempted to contact the Russian site owner to have the information removed and to ask how they obtained it in the first place.  There was no name on the semargl site, nor e-mail, only a form.  I also attempted to do so and even involved two intermediaries who also attempted to facilitate contact. The site in question had clearly advertised a haplogroup project so I reached out to those project admins to facilitate contact as well. The website owner never replied. However, two days later, the web site owner did remove the surname from the site, but all of the harvested information remains. You can see it for yourself today. Kit number 24162.


In fact, this site has scraped and reconstructed almost all (if not all) of the haplogroup projects at Family Tree DNA. You can see them here.

I conducted a little experiment not long ago wherein I timed how long it took after results were posted at Family Tree DNA for them to appear on this site and it was generally between 24 and 48 hours.  I repeated that this week with my husband’s results which were already displayed on the semargl website (without his permission,) and sure enough, his Big Y results that are displayed on the haplogroup project page at Family Tree DNA were immediately updated on the semargl site with his new SNP information.

One of my haplogroup projects has SNPs “turned off” but the participants data and SNPs are harvested anyway, because the robots don’t just scrape haplogroup projects, but surname projects as well. And almost everyone who joins haplogroup projects joins surname projects.

Have you noticed that the response times at Family Tree DNA are sometimes slow? Well, when robots are searching every project for new results on a daily basis, it does indeed tax their systems.  We know the semargl site uses robots, but there may be more sites we aren’t aware of doing the same thing.

Remember when Ysearch was taken offline entirely and the following message was displayed?

“YSearch is currently unavailable due to an increase in abusive data mining by automated scripts. The site will be unavailable for an extended period of indeterminate duration.”

Well, robots at it again.

Ironically, one of the people I spoke to about this used the fact that YSearch was down to justify why the semargl site was so important – because they duplicated the YSearch info.

How Can They Do This?

The bottom of every single project page at Family Tree DNA displays copyright verbiage, as follows:

ftdna copyright

This clearly includes the contents.  In the context of Russia, where the semargl website is located, this doesn’t matter, but perhaps Judy Russell will tackle the topic of project content ownership relative to the US in one of her columns.

I assure you that I have never been contacted and many of my projects’ contents are shown on the semargl site, complete haplogroup project data along with many participants, specifically those with SNP tests, from surname projects.

If you have had any SNP testing at Family Tree DNA, your results are probably included in this data base.  If you want to see if your kit number is there, you can search by kit number, and just for yuks, try searching by surname too:

When participants join projects, they can clearly expect their results to be shown on the associated project page at Family Tree DNA. In fact, that’s the whole point of genetic genealogy, to be able to find your paternal line, for example, or your genetic cousins. Sharing and comparing.

Do participants expect that their data will be scraped and displayed on a website in Russia, with or without their surname, and entirely without their permission or knowledge?  Many surname project administrators are probably entirely unaware of this themselves.

The answer to “how can they do that?” is that they are in Russia and they are not bound by any US copyright or any other US laws. If you have any doubt about that, think Edward Snowden and why he is in Russia. In fact, the only thing that binds them is a sense of ethics, what’s right and wrong, internet courtesy and a colloquial definition of fair use. As you might have noticed, none of these things are legally binding, especially not on people in Russia.

Ethics speaks for itself. This site obviously sees nothing wrong with taking or harvesting the data from elsewhere without notification or permission.  They also see nothing wrong with retaining, utilizing and displaying data even when it has been asked by the owner to be removed.  Internet courtesy or netiquette would indicate that you would ask permission or minimally, inform the individuals that you are using their data. And fair use would indicate that you credit the individuals for their work and that you would source your data. Given that individuals didn’t grant permission for their information to be included, one should at least have the opportunity for their data to be removed, if randomly discovered, but that isn’t the case.  This certainly explains why they were trying to remain anonymous a year ago, and refused contact.

As one participant said to me, “Just because the technology door can’t be locked to prevent this type of activity, does that make taking something that doesn’t belong to you any less of a theft?”

In discussions surrounding this topic, a highly respected project administrator said the following:

“I do not think any person today should have a reasonable expectation that anything displayed on the Internet can be expected not to be copied because it is public info – fair game to a third party as long as the fair use doctrine is observed. If I copied that particular person’s results to my website as an example of something it comes under fair use – as long as I indicate the source for the info. But when someone copies large numbers of items or fails to show the source of the info, it is no longer fair use.”

This isn’t the only situation like this, although it is by far the most blatant.

Recently, I saw a draft of a “paper” where an entire haplogroup project was “analyzed” using a third party tool without knowledge or involvement of the administrators, nor appropriate credit given for their project. Clearly, without their efforts in the project, the analysis paper could not have been written because the project would not exist. While that paper involves one person, this website involves many, is very public, and now the owner(s) have also formed and are part of a company. The website also solicits donations as well.

semargl sidebar

You’ll notice that YFull is advertised on their website, under the donate button. The ISOGG Wiki provides the following information about YFull.

“ was founded in 2013 and focuses on the interpretation of Y-chromosome sequences. The main aim of the project is to provide services for the analysis of full Y-chromosome raw data (BAM) files and convenient visualization. The data is collected and analysed and newly discovered single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are placed on an experimental Y-tree. Haplogroup and thematic projects are offered. The YFull service is located in Moscow, Russia.”

The YFull product analysis deliverables have been covered by two bloggers here and here.

The YFull team is listed in the Wiki article as follows:

  • Vadim Urasin (aka Wertner): active participant of the DNA genealogical community since 2008, the developer of robots to collect Y-data from public sources, “Y-predictor” developer, FTDNA group administrator, developer of the Y-series SNPs (for R1a, J2b, R2a, Q, O etc).
  • Roman Sychev (aka Maximus Centurion): active participant of the DNA genealogical community since 2006, since 2007 as moderator (aka Maximus),, FTDNA group administrator, developer of the Z-series SNPs (for R1a, I1, J2b), developer of the Y-series SNPs (for R1a, I, R2a, J2b, Q, O etc).
  • Vladimir Tagankin (aka Semargl): active participant of the DNA genealogical community, the DNA database “” developer, FTDNA group administrator and co-administrator, developer of the Z-series SNPs (for R1a, I, J2b), developer of the Y-series SNPs (for R1a, J2b, R2a, Q, O etc).

You’ll note that the team includes two people who are credited with developing the mining/screen scraping robots and the developer of the database.  Also please note that all 3 are listed as group administrators at Family Tree DNA, which, given the circumstances, seems to be in violation of the Project Administrator Guidelines.  I wonder if Family Tree DNA is aware of this and if project members understand what their project administrator is doing with their DNA results.

I happened to be working with someone’s results who are in the R1a1a and Subclades project.  I noticed a familiar name among the project co-administrators at the bottom of the list.

semargl admin

I have not checked other projects.

This is particularly unfortunate, because the haplogroup projects have been key players in terms of encouraging SNP testing, sorting through results and defining key haplogroup subgroups.  Project participants join haplogroup projects to further science and research.  They expect the administrators to work with the results, but working with/ analyzing the results and reproducing the results on another site is not the same.  Furthermore, being both a project administrator and the same person whose robots are scraping the FTDNA project sites to reproduce elsewhere without permission seems like a wolf masquerading as a shepherd to gain access to lambs.

Of course, the fully sequenced Y results are not posted to the public pages of projects, so they can not be harvested in full by robots like the individual SNP results, including Nat Geo transfers and Walk the Y results. Enter the free analysis provided by YFull to individuals who receive their fully sequenced Y results from either the Big Y at Family Tree DNA or the Full Y from FullGenomes.

When I first looked, there were no terms and condition, but there are terms and conditions on the YFull site today, at the bottom of the main page.

YFull t&c

4.2 We may disclose to third parties, and/or use in our Services, “Aggregated Genetic and Self-Reported Information”, which is Genetic and Self-Reported Information that has been stripped of Registration Information and combined with data from a number of other users sufficient to minimize the possibility of exposing individual-level information while still providing scientific evidence. If you have given consent for your Genetic and Self-Reported Information to be used in Research, we may include such information in Aggregated Genetic and Self-Reported Information intended to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. We emphasize that Aggregated Genetic and Self-Reported Information will be stripped of names, physical addresses, email addresses, and any other Personal Information that may be used to identify you as a unique individual.

4.3 We may disclose to third parties – Partners or service providers (e.g. our contracted genotyping laboratory or credit card processors) use and/or store the information in order to provide you with’s Services.

Is Screen Scraping and Data Mining Wrong?

There are two sides to this argument.

At the time of the initial discovery, a year ago, with my project participant, based on my communications with some project administrators, it was clear that at least some of the admins knew of this activity and were supportive.


Because they perceived that the data was “public domain” and the resultant semargl website and “knowledge base,” as they phrased it, justified the means. These sentiments were expressed by multiple project administrators, separately, although now I realize that at least one of these people is a project co-administrator with the semargl owner, whose identity I didn’t know at that time. Their interpretation of public domain is incorrect, because public domain refers to works “whose intellectual property rights have expired” and this is clearly not the case. What they probably meant was that since the data has been posted publicly, from their perspective, the data at that point is freely available to use.

In some circumstances, that might at least partially be true.  But since this site is in Russia, they are not bound by any laws here and they clearly did not choose to abide by any of the generally accepted netiquette standards.

Having said that, the semargl site is wonderfully done and extremely informative, which is why genetic genealogists have embraced it.  Many probably don’t realize how the data has been obtained.  Combine that with the mindset of “there’s nothing we can do about it anyway,” since they are in Russia, and many have simply resigned themselves to the fact that the situation is what it is.  Besides that, brining this topic up causes you to be extremely unpopular in some camps.

Semargl vs Family Tree DNA

This is probably a good time to define how the semargl site is different than the Family Tree DNA site.  Family Tree  DNA is focused on genealogy, which includes surnames and oldest ancestor information.  They also support and encourage testing of markers that reveal deeper ancestry, before the advent of surnames, which falls into the anthropological timeframe.  After all, that’s still the history of our ancestors, revealed in their DNA – but before surnames.  At Family Tree DNA, people join themselves to projects and they give permission when testing for comparison of their data.  If they so choose, then can remove their data from projects, make their information entirely private or remove it entirely from the data base.  In other words, they own and control their data.

The semargl site does not focus on genealogy and is generally focused on haplogroup definitions (by both SNP and STR markers) and population movement and settlement relative to haplogroup subgroups.  In that way, it’s more of a research support endeavor.  It’s not genealogy focused although it has the potential of helping genealogists understand the genesis of their ancestors before surnames.  Having said that, they do have marker matching capabilities but without surnames displayed.

Of course, we know how they obtain their data, screen scraping the Family Tree DNA and YSearch sites, and that people whose data is displayed have not given permission and may be entirely unaware their data appears on that site.

Let’s look at an example of what semargl has done with DNA information. I’ll use haplogroup Q since it is a smaller haplogroup than others and one I’m familiar with.

They have divided haplogroup Q into 30 groupings based on SNPs. Each of these branches has its own map. The Q1b-Ashkenazi map is shown below with associated kit numbers to the right under the ad.

semargl q

The map above, is by SNP, not by STR or individual match like the project and personal maps at Family Tree DNA.

This is followed by a table of STR marker haplotypes, by kit number, which is exactly like the data at Family Tree DNA.

semargl q str

STR table in color.

semargl q str color

Each haplogroup by SNP has a distribution map. This is not by subgroup, but by main haplogroup. Haplogroup Q is shown below.

semargl q pie

You can also select any SNP to view. I’ve selected L294 at random. Notice that the results are noted as from FTDNA (with kit number) or YSearch (with user ID) and those are the only sources given, so the origin of the data is very clear.

semargl snp

You can also inquire by country. Albania has primarily three haplogroups found.

semargl albania

You can query by haplogroup placing results on maps and other types of queries as well.

This owner(s) of this site has done a prodigious amount of work, and it is all very useful, and very well done. It’s actually too bad this isn’t a collaborate work, because I think it would have been very well accepted under different conditions.  Most people would have gladly given permission had they been asked.

Unfortunately, the method used to obtain the data generates a lot of unanswered and pretty ugly questions.

Begging the Questions

Some people feel that if this site were to disappear, that the genetic genealogy community as a whole would suffer. It is the only location where aggregated SNP data is processed and analyzed in this manner.

They also feel that because the individual information has been publicly posted elsewhere, in this case, in Family Tree DNA projects, that this site, and others who might be doing the same thing, have done nothing wrong, unethical or inappropriate.

Others feel that this screen scraping/data harvesting of Family Tree DNA project data is an ethics violation in the strongest terms and that if this activity had been undertaken by someone within the US or within reach of the US via copyright treaty, it would be prosecutable under copyright laws.

Originally, many felt that since these people were “just genetic genealogists” trying to understand results, focused on just a few haplogroups in which they were personally interested, and since they weren’t selling anything, that there was no conflict of interest. However, the site has clearly grown exponentially and evolved over time, robots created and utilized, donations are being solicited, and now a company is involved as well, formed in 2013.  And now we discover that the site owner is a project administrator at Family Tree DNA, giving them unprecedented access to DNA results beyond what is available publicly.  One might suggest that is a conflict of interest.  In defense of Family Tree DNA, a year ago it was almost impossible to discern the name of the person behind the semargl site and I was never able to obtain an e-mail address, even though it was clear that the intermediaries were communicating with him.  People on the internet use pseudonyms and screen names regularly, as you can note in the Wiki entry about the YFull team.

Clearly, the people responsible for the robots that were and continue to disrupt the Family Tree DNA site and taking YSearch down have to be aware of that and they didn’t and haven’t stopped their activities. Was it these robots? I don’t know for sure, but semargl has obviously been utilizing robots, screen scraping the Family Tree DNA site for more than a year based on when my participants data was harvested.  In fact, they are still utilizing robots, because my husband’s Big Y SNPs that were posted at Family Tree DNA (a subset of his total SNPs) one day this week were displayed on the semargl site the following day.  Furthermore, one of the YFull principals is credited with developing these robots and is also noted as being a project administrator.  Project administrators are supposed to be trusted stewards of the DNA of their participants.

Because the provider’s services were disrupted, one can’t really argue that no one has been damaged. Family Tree DNA has clearly been and continues to be impacted, their customers have been inconvenienced.  Family Tree DNA spends money on bandwidth and staff to deal with these issues.

Some would assert that the expectations and rights of those whose results have been pirated, harvested or stolen, depending on your perspective, have been violated because the results have been used without permission of the participant. Others would say that there has been no harm because the results are anonymized (currently) on the semargl site with the surname removed from the display and they were retrieved from a publicly available source.  However, the surname is still stored in the semargl system, because you can query by surname and all kits numbers with that surname are returned.  With some creative Googling, you can uncover the surname relatively easily given just the kit number on the semargl site, but I know of no way you could discover the actual identity of an individual unless that person was the only person in the world with that particular surname, or if they had themselves posted their name and kit number together on a public venue.

If participants refuse to join projects in the future, or withdraw from projects because they don’t want their data to be harvested by sites like this, then genetic genealogy as a whole has been damaged.  Then so have you and I as genetic genealogists.

Let me quote my husband, who never gets ruffled, this evening, when I showed him his results.  He knew nothing about any of this before I sat him down at my computer and showed him his results, first at Family Tree DNA, where he was excited to see his extended haplogroup and Big Y Novel Variants, and then on the semargl site.  I wish I had taken a picture of the shocked look on his face.  Here’s what he had to say when he saw his results on the semargl site:

“What the <bleep>?  How did they get there?”

Pause for a moment while the reality soaked in.

“Get them off there.  They have no right.”

I really can’t quote anymore of what he said and remain family friendly, but suffice it to say the word appalled was used several times, along with horrified, and when I showed him that the semargl data base owner was a co-administrator of his haplogroup project, he shifted to utterly livid and suggested that Family Tree DNA remove him and whoever added him as a co-administrator as well for complicity.  In fact, his “suggestions” went even further, to removing all of the project admins as co-conspirators, because they obviously knew what their co-admin was doing and did nothing to protect his data, as a project member.  In fact, some of them may well be involved in the exploitation of his data.

His uncomfortable questions continued, like “How can that be?” and “Does he have the rest of my data too?”  Suffice it to say my husband is utterly furious, and when I told him that I can’t have those results removed from the Russian site, and why, it got even worse.  Maybe it’s a good thing they are in Russia.

On the other hand, others argue that many benefit from the semargl site and that the people who join projects and whose results are publicly posted had no reason to expect that their results would not be harvested or utilized by someone, at some time.  Try explaining that to my husband, whose comment when he saw the ‘donate’ button right beside his results on the semargl said to me, “How is that right, they’re getting money for something they stole?  My DNA results, that I paid for.  My God, they had my results posted on their site before I even had a chance to look at them at Family Tree DNA.”

One DNA project clearly states on their main project page that once you post your information on the internet, it can never be entirely “removed.”  Of course, DNA testing for genealogy without sharing is entirely pointless.  Where is the line between sharing, when an individual intentionally joins a project, posting their own data, and theft?

The only difference between cousin Johnny discovering that you descend from the same genealogy/genetic line based on your surname project at Family Tree DNA and Russian data miners harvesting the data is the order of magnitude, intention and methodology. As someone else has pointed out, not dissimilar from the difference between consensual sex and rape.

Another perspective is that because we are here and they are in Russia, there’s nothing we can do about it, anyway, so why sweat it and just enjoy the benefits.  Right? Besides, as has been pointed out to me, we don’t want participants to become upset and withdraw from projects or not join, so we won’t discuss the elephant in the room.  What pink elephant?  I don’t see a pink elephant.  And we certainly, most certainly, do NOT want to have to answer any of those uncomfortable questions my husband asked me this evening.  After all, their DNA is already out there and there’s nothing to be done about it now, so don’t make waves.

“Doing something” now to prevent harvesting, assuming there was anything that could be done, is like closing the barn door after the cow has already left, or, in this case, the pink elephant.

This fatalism sounds a whole lot like the thought process involved in how slavery was justified along with gender and race discrimination and Hitler’s genocidal atrocities.  I’m not equating data mining to those things, but I am saying that the thought process that “we can’t do anything about it” or “everyone else is doing it,” so we accept it and even participate can be a deadly, slippery slope.  And if it’s wrong, ignoring, tolerating or accepting it certainly doesn’t make it right.

Let me share a parting thought from my husband, after he calmed down enough to speak coherently.

“I feel unclean.  I feel like I’ve been violated.  My DNA has been kidnapped and I’ve been genetically raped.  It’s wrong.  It’s just wrong, in so many ways.”

So….you tell me…

Harvested, pirated or stolen? Right or wrong? Ethical or unethical? Malicious or not? Theft? Plagiarism? Does the end justify the means? Perfectly fine?

I shared with you my husband’s reaction. He’s not involved in this field like I am.  He’s much more of the typical “end consumer.”  I’m not telling you what I think. You decide for yourself.

Note:  I thought that participants would be able to view the comments entered in the “other” field.  Since you can’t, here’s what they say:

  • Inevitable
  • Wrong, unethical, non consensual, and exploitive
  • Thank you for letting us know about this.
  • It’s criminal
  • FTDNA should learn from the semargl site, then it would be more useful and legal



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Hugh Bowling (1591-1651) – DNA Rare as Hen’s Teeth – 52 Ancestors #14

Thomas Speake, the immigrant that founded the Maryland line of the Speak(e)(s) family America, was born about 1634, had immigrated by 1660 and was married to Elizabeth Bowling by November of 1663. They lived in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. They had only two known children, John, known as John the Innkeeper, born in 1665, and Bowling Speak born in 1674. We know about their children, because Thomas died August 6, 1681 and he appointed James Bowling, his brother-in-law, guardian of his minor children, naming them.

The Speak family who descends from Thomas Speak who married Elizabeth Bowling carries as many genes from the Bowling family as from the Speak line. We just don’t think of it that way because the Speak surname has been passed down, and of course, the Bowling name, except as a first name, Bowling Speak, and then a middle name, Thomas Bowling Speake, did not get passed to future generations.

The Bowling Y-line DNA would be that of Elizabeth’s father who is believed to be Hugh Bowling, christened August 6, 1591 in Chorley, Lancashire, and died Sept. 7, 1651, buried in Standish, married to Ellen Finch in 1616.

Before our trip to England, we located some Bowling males, and thanks to Shirley Platt, Jerry Bowling agreed to have his Y DNA tested for a special kind of mutation called a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) that tells us about his haplogroup or his deep ancestral clan.

About 50% of the men of Europe descend from one group of settlers, but in our case, we’ve twice been lucky now, because our Speak line comes from the Dinaric area of the Alps and our Bowling line is even more unique.  The Bowling males from Chorley, in Lancashire, carry haplogroup T1.  What is T1, you ask?  Rare, that’s what it is!!!  We’re talking hens-teeth rare here.

And not only is it rare overall, it’s extremely rare in England.

Jerry has a total of 15 low resolution DNA matches, and of those, 3 are other Bowlings, 6 are to other English surnames, of which 3 are Dutton, and the balance are to men from either Portugal or Spain.  All of the English surname men match Jerry exactly, and all of the Spanish/Portuguese matches carry one mutation difference.  This indicates that the Bowlings are more closely related to the English men than the Spanish/Portuguese men.  For example, the Stockton family is from just up the road, in Cheshire.

As we move to higher resolution markers, meaning matches closer in time, the other surnames all fall away and the Bowling men only match other Bowling men.  They should be more closely related to Bowling men than men who match genetically but carry different surnames, unless an “adoption” of some sort, name change or illegitimate birth has occurred in the line.

This match with Iberian men doesn’t necessarily mean that the ancestors of the Bowlings were Iberian. It could mean that the Bowling men and the Iberian men both share a common ancestor from elsewhere, with both groups having migrated from that central location.  Or, it could mean that the Bowling ancestors were Iberian.  Perhaps we can find clues in the history of the population migration pattern of haplogroup T1.  Let’s see what we can find.

At Family Tree DNA, there are haplogroup as well as surname projects.  People who share a common haplogroup join the haplogroup project that matches their haplogroup designation in order for the population spread and migration pattern of the haplogroup to be studied.  Generally, the haplogroup project administrators know more about their haplogroups than almost anyone else.  Often they have a personal interest, carrying that haplogroup themselves.  They are also often out in front of the scientists who define subgroups.  Science is slow-moving by its very nature, and in genetic genealogy, sometimes scientists move so slowly that the science is obsolete by the time it’s actually announced.  In other words, the field sometimes moves faster than the scientists can keep up.

In this case, Family Tree DNA, who waits for academic consensus before assigning new haplogroups, shows the SNP marker M70 as defining haplogroup T1, but the administrators, based on both STR markers and SNPs, have grouped Jerry with a small subgroup of people who are from ….are you ready for this….Egypt, Saudi Arabia (2), Bangladesh, Spain, Yemen (2), Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates.  Of this entire grouping, Jerry Bowling is the only individual from the British Isles or even from Europe except for Spain and Bulgaria.  This group is labeled at the Alpha-1-Y group.  Keep in mind, however, that not all testers join haplogroup projects and it’s obvious from this information that Jerry’s English matches have not joined.

Bowling T1 map

So, in timeline order, the Bowlings are the most closely related to other Bowlings males, then the English non-Bowling men they match, then the Iberian men they match, then the Alpha-1-Y haplogroup T group.  On the map above, showing the Bowling matches, the location in Turkey is believed to be the birthplace of haplogroup T.

What do we know about haplogroup T, the parent of subgroup T1?

Haplogroup T is very rare in Europe, with less than 1% of European men carrying haplogroup T.  It is much more common in the Middle East, portions of South Asia and portions of Northern and Eastern Africa.

In addition, the distribution of haplogroup T is very spotty, with some areas virtually devoid of this haplogroup, while in other locations we find rich pockets.  The map below shows the distribution of haplogroup T.

T1 Frequency Distribution

On the map above, haplogroup T is found most often in Northern and Eastern Africa, in the Middle East and South Asia and in spotty locations in Southern Europe.  It’s believed that haplogroup T originated in the Taurus Mountains in Eastern Turkey about 25,000 or 30,000 years ago, with subgroup T1 being born in the Middle East between 10,000 and 25,000 years ago.

A Relief of the Taurus Mountains is shown below.  Cyprus is the island just to the south of the mountain range.

Taurus Mountains

Middle Eastern Map cropped

So how, then, did our haplogroup T ancestors get to Europe?  And not just Europe, but the western periphery of Europe?

There are four scenarios that have historical evidence and fit what we know of the migration path of haplogroup T.  Any or all of these could have come into play, or perhaps another scenario we don’t know about today.

Scenario 1 – The Phoenicians

The Neolithic period, as the introduction of agriculture was known, began about 12,000 years ago in the Levant and had arrived in Europe by about 7,000 years ago. It took another 3000 years to spread across Europe from Southeast to Northwest, moving at the rate of .6 -1.3 km per year, or between a third and 4/5ths of a mile, or between 400 and 1400 yards, just enough for the next generation to move next door to find available, unoccupied farmland.

The path to Europe was originally thought to be through the Caucus region, present day Turkey, Georgia and countries East of the Black Sea, but alternate routes are a probability and for our haplogroup T1 ancestors, a certainty.  Another route was likely a coastal Mediterranean route or a slightly different route that bypassed the northern Caucus area for the easier coastal route, crossing into Turkey at Istanbul and then taking the overland route in Europe. These routes would also explain the frequency of haplogroup T found in the Balkan area, into Italy, the Iberian peninsula and throughout the Mediterranean in addition to northern Europe.

The coastal route associated with Phoenician trading is a strong possibility.  Phoenician traders, whether they settled or regularly visited, would have deposited their Y-line DNA for centuries in various trading and settlement areas, as shown in the following map from the paper “Identifying Genetic Traces of Historical Expansions: Phoenician Footprints in the Mediterranean”.

Phoenician Map

As you can see, illustrated on the map below from the National Geographic Genographic project, the population migration route for haplogroup T parallels these settlements.

Settlement Map cropped

The Phoenicians were dominant traders 2000-3000 years ago. The following map shows both Phoenician (yellow) and Greek (red) trade routes in 500 BC.  The route is extremely suggestive of correlation when compared with the frequency charts compiled from research papers.  Many of the locations with the highest frequencies in the Mediterranean today were trade destinations of the Phoenicians or Greeks.

Phoenician Trade Routes

Scenario 2 – The Jews

Haplogroup T is found in very low levels throughout Europe, but they tend to be clustered and are often significantly higher in areas where Jewish families are known to have settled.  Below, we see a haplogroup breakdown within the Ashkenazi Jews.  This, of course, implies that even if haplogroup T was already resident within Europe, additional families were part of the Jewish diaspora.  Clearly not all European men who are haplogroup T were of the Jewish faith, but many are.  Haplogroup T dates much further back in time than the Jewish faith, so many people will be distantly related to those of the Jewish faith, but not Jewish themselves.

Ashkenazi Jewish Breakdown cropped


The Rapalye/Rapparlie Family

We have actual evidence of a haplogroup T1 family found in Germany, France and the Netherlands and having a history of being a Sephardic Jewish from Spain who left with the edict of Nantes in 1492 evicting all Jews.  I am intimately familiar with this family because my family in Mutterstadt, Germany is the Rapparlien family, referred to in the Bible, originally from the coast of France at Calais.

Rapparlie coat of arms

The Rapparlie family crest, shown above, is taken from the Rapparlie family Bible in Mutterstadt.   The information on the family crest translates as follows:

“Rapparlie. An ancestral Spanish family which came in the 16th century to the Netherlands. From where (our ancestor) Josef Georg, who lived in Leuven, came to Frankfurt (the one of the river Main). He obtained citizen rights there in 1820.”

The translator adds information telling us that the Rapparlie family is likely to have fled from Spain to the Netherlands because of the Decree of Alhambra of 1492, an edict expelling all of the Jews from Spain.

Decree of Alhambra

Estimates are that between 165,000 and 800,000 people were evicted with about 28,000 displaced individuals migrating to what is today France, Holland, Germany and England.  These displaced Jews became the Shepardic Jews, and were forced to convert to Catholicism before the expulsion, becoming therefore known as Conversos.  Their conversions were often insincere, only a method to survive persecution, and therefore they would have been ripe pickings for the rebellion against Catholicism accompanying the Protestant reformation some years later.

The Rapparlie (and variant spellings) family in Valenciennes were known to be silk weavers, and historical records are full of references to Jewish silk weavers in Spain and other Middle Eastern and Northern African locations in the Middle Ages and prior to their eviction from Spain in 1492.

Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews

The Ashkenazi Jews were known to have been in Europe as early as the Middle Ages in the 4th century.  It is unknown if this early group survived intact, but Jews are again prevalent in the records by the 10th century.  Most of the Jews were clustered in cities, trade centers, as their high rates of literacy and knowledge of trades made them successful and desirable, if sometimes looked down upon because the Christian church forbade Christians from participating in usury (money lending in exchange for interest), which the Jews embraced heartily.

Conversely, the Jews maintained their separate living quarters, communities and family units, practiced endogamy (married only within their Jewish community) and they too looked down up on their neighbors.  Unfortunately, this mutual distrust and antipathy was the seed of eventual anti-Semitic discrimination and ultimately, attempted genocide.

The Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and again in 1497, and many settled in Europe, but the two Jewish groups tended to maintain separate communities as their beliefs, practices and languages had come to differ in the centuries they had both been separated from their motherland.

Following the Roman takeover of Judea, the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem in 70AD.  They continued to be residents of Palestine for several hundred years, but groups began to look for opportunities elsewhere and they began to be found in other locations in Mesopotamia and dispersed within the Mediterranean region.  The largest concentrations were in the Levant, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy, including Rome itself.  Smaller communities are recorded in Gaul (France), Spain and North Africa.  Christianity became the official religion of Rome and Constantinople (current day Istanbul) in 380 and Jews were increasingly marginalized.

Europe 500 AD

The Germanic invasions of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century by tribes such as the Visigoths, Franks, Lombards and Vandals caused massive economic and social instability within western Europe, contributing to its decline.  In the late Roman Empire, Jews are known to have lived in Cologne and Trier as well as in what is now France.  However, it is unclear whether there is any continuity between those Roman communities and the distinct Ashkenazi Jewish culture that began to emerge about 500 years later.

After 800 AD, Charlemagne’s unification of former Frankish lands with northern Italy and Rome brought a brief period of stability and unity in western Europe which created new opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle once again north of the Alps.  Many Jewish merchants embraced occupations in finance and commerce.  From that time to the present, the Ashkenazi are well documented in Europe.

Jewish people

Unfortunately, their lives in Europe were not always stable, and with the onset of the Crusades, they were evicted from England in 1290, France in 1392 and parts of Germany in the 1400s, pushing them eastward into Poland, Lithuania and Russia.  By the 1400s, the Ashkenazi Jewish Communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora.  This area which eventually fell under the domination of Russia.  Austria and Prussia (Germany) would remain the center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.  A painting on the previous page of Ashkenazi Jews praying on Yom Kippur was painted in 1878 by Maurycy Gottlieb in his hometown of Drohobych.

During the Holocaust, of the 8.8 million Jews living in Europe at the beginning of World Jews in LondonWar II, about 6 million, more than two-thirds, were systematically murdered because of their Jewish faith or heritage.  More than 91% of the Polish Jews died, 82% in
the Ukraine and between 50 and 90% in other European nations (Germany, France, Hungary and the Baltic states).  Sephardic communities suffered similar depletions in a few countries including Greece, the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia.  At this time, many Jews began to immigrate, to the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia and Argentina where they and their descendants are found today.  At right, refugee Jews are portrayed arriving in London, poor and destitute, but alive.

Scenario 3 – Phoenician, Jewish or Maybe Moors?

First, let me say we simply don’t have the definitive answer to this question, but let’s use what records we do have to try to narrow the possibilities.

The Bowling family first has records from 1520 in Chorley, in Lancashire, England.  This Bowling family was, indeed, Catholic, as was the rest of England in 1520.  The Protestant Reformation had not yet happened and wouldn’t until in the 1530s, specifically, 1534 when Henry VIII declared himself the head of the church in England and broke ties with Rome.

After that, the Bowling family, along with the Speak family, the Finch family and others would staunchly refuse to become Protestants.

It’s hard for me to believe that the Bowling family was Jewish in 1492, when only 28 years later, or one generation, we find them in England, and not coastal England, but in the middle of Lancashire.  Even harder for me to believe is that they would become Catholic, the religion that persecuted them so terribly and forced the Jews to leave Spain in such desperate straits.  If they were going to become Catholic, they would simply have converted and stayed in Spain.  It would have been a lot easier that way.

They could have been Phoenician.  They could also have been Moorish, as the Moors from the Middle East and North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and called the territory Al-Andalus, an area which at different times comprised Gibraltar, most of Spain and Portugal, and parts of France. There was also a Moorish presence in what is now southern Italy, primarily in Sicily which also has a significant amount of haplogroup T, although none that matches the Bowling line.

Moors in Iberia

This 13th century painting depicts Moors in Iberia.

Medieval Spain and Portugal were the scene of almost constant warfare between Muslims and Christians. Al-Andalus sent periodic raiding expeditions to loot the Iberian Christian kingdoms, bringing back booty and slaves. In a raid against Lisbon, Portugal in 1189, for example, the Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansur took 3,000 female and child captives. In a subsequent attack upon Silves, Portugal in 1191, the governor of Córdoba took 3,000 Christian slaves.

Similarly, Christians sold Muslim slaves captured in war. The Knights of Malta attacked pirates and Muslim shipping, and their base became a center for slave trading, selling captured North Africans and Turks. Malta remained a slave market until well into the late 18th century. One thousand slaves were required to man the galleys (ships) of the Order.

The religious difference of the Moorish Muslims led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe called the Reconquista. The Fall of Granada in 1492 saw the end of the Muslim rule in Iberia.

Perhaps the history of Lancashire itself can help us understand how our ancestors might have settled in that region.

History of Lancashire

In the Domesday Book, written in 1086 after William the Conqueror conquered England in 1066, some of the lands now within Lancashire had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the Mersey and Ribble Rivers (referred to in the Domesday Book as “Inter Ripam et Mersam”) formed part of the returns for Cheshire.  Although some have taken this to mean that, at this time, south Lancashire was part of Cheshire, it is not clear that this was the case, and more recent research indicates that the boundary between Cheshire and what was to become Lancashire remained the river Mersey. Once Lancashire’s initial boundaries were established in 1182, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

Lancashire takes its name from the city of Lancaster, which itself is means ‘Roman fort on the River Lune’, combining the name of the river with the Old English cæster, which referred to a Roman fort or camp. The county was established some time after the Norman conquest when William the Conqueror gave the land between the Ribble and the Mersey, together with Amounderness, to Roger de Poitou. In the early 1090s Lonsdale, Cartmel and Furness were added to Roger’s estates to facilitate the defense of the area south of Morecambe Bay from Scottish raiding parties, which travelled round the Cumberland coast and across the bay at low water, rather than through the mountainous regions of the Lake District.

Scenario Four – Roman Soldiers, Slaves or Conscripts

From this information, we know two things.  First, there was a Roman fort in this area, and second there were Scottish raiding parties.  This DNA is not Scottish, so we can discount that but what it does tell us is that the fort was very probably heavily fortified and the soldiers patrolled throughout the region to protect it from the Scots.

We also know, from our visit to Chester, that a Roman fort was also located there.  A little additional research yields even more interesting information, revealing a Roman fort right in the Ribble Valley at a location called Ribchester, shown below, which is located on the Ribble River half way between Gisburn, the home of the Speake family and Charnock Richard, the home of the Bowling family, about 10 miles from each.

Ribchester roman fort Lancashire

Furthermore, this fort is much older than the Domesday Book.  The first fort at Ribchester was built in timber in AD 72/73 by the Roman Twentieth Legion. The fort was renovated in the late 1st century AD and was rebuilt in stone in the early 2nd century. During the life of the fort, a village grew up around it becoming Ribchester. A fort remained at Ribchester until the 4th century AD and its remains can still be seen around the present village.

Romans also settled Sarmatians at Ribchester. In those days Ribchester was known as Bremetennacum and is known chiefly as the retirement home of the Sarmatians. Checking the distribution map, there is a high concentration of haplogroup T along the southwest Caspian Sea and a less dense concentration in western Iran and Iraq. Areas either long Iranian for millenia or well within the sphere of Iranian influence.

The map below shows the following locations:

  1. The Lowbarrow Bridge location of the Roman fort recorded in the Domesday Book
  2. Gisburn – home region of the Speak family
  3. Ribchester, location of the Roman fort in the Ribble Valley
  4. Charnock Richard, home region of the Bowling Family
  5. Chester, location of a third Roman fort

Lancashire map

In other areas in England, in particular, along the line of Hadrian’s Wall between England and Scotland, where we find several Roman forts and fortifications, we also find Mediterranean and North African DNA, quite a bit of it, and concentrated in pockets surrounding the forts.  We know that not all Roman soldiers were Roman citizens, some were slaves and some were conscripted.  Many slaves volunteered for military duty.  And the Romans, of course, as soldiers will do, sometimes left their DNA behind, if they didn’t marry outright with the local females.

So Who Are We???

I really don’t think the Bowling family has a Jewish history.  In part because they have no Jewish matches at all, nor matches in highly Jewish areas.  Also, the known history of the family does not mesh with what would have happened historically at that time.  England was not a Jewish haven, especially not the countryside.  London might be another story, but Lancashire, in the Ribble Valley?  I don’t think so as there is absolutely no evidence to support this.

The Bowling ancestors could have been Phoenician and found their way to the Iberian peninsula in that manner, but if they were, I would think we would see a path of matches throughout the Mediterranean, particularly on Greece, the southern end of Italy and on Sicily, and we don’t.  We see Middle Eastern matches, Iberian matches and then English matches with only a couple of exceptions.

The Bowling men could be Moors, except the Moors didn’t invade the Iberian peninsula until about 300 years after the Roman occupation of England ended, meaning the Romans were no longer sending troops to England so the dates with Moors are problematic.

The scenario that fits best is that the Bowling ancestors were likely slaves or conscripted soldiers of the Roman legion that conquered England beginning in AD43.  The Roman occupation continued until about the year 500 when the Saxons invaded.  This means that Romans lived in Britain, among the British for about 400 years which equates to about 16 generations, plenty of time to assimilate with the local population.

The Roman empire from the year 43AD to 409 is shown below.

Roman Empire

In time, slaves and captives became part of the Roman army, willingly or not, conscripts or otherwise, that invaded and subsequently ruled England for the next 400 years.  Slavery was part of Roman life and captive soldiers and their family were traditionally sold into slavery.  Note, on the map above, that the entire Mediterranean basin fell under the Roman rule, including several Middle Eastern locations where Bowling haplogroup matches are found.

This relief below, from Smyrna, present day Izmir, Turkey, shows a roman soldier leading 2 Turkish slaves away in chains.

Turkish slaves

Regardless of whether the Bowlings paternally are Moors, Phoenicians, Roman soldiers, Roman slaves or Jews, we share a common heritage between all of these groups – back in the Middle East before these groups were separately defined as such.  Our origins are firmly tied there, for tens of thousands of years, in the land of sand and forbidding mountains, the Holy Land and the religious well from which Christianity, the Muslim faith and the Jewish religion all sprang.  The Taurus Mountains and the Middle East.  This is the land of our Bowling forefathers, before Lancashire…this is our homeland.

sand dunes

Taurus mountains sunset

Taurus Mountains lake

Mountains and sand - middle east



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